The use of individual protective covers (IPCs) for young trees prevented Asian citrus psyllid transmission and HLB infection in a trial near Immokalee, Fernando Alferez reported during the recent virtual Citrus Expo.
Alferez said citrus trees planted at the Southwest Florida Research and Education Center (SWFREC) in January 2018 and covered with IPCs have been HLB-free for 32 months. Alferez is an assistant professor at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences at the SWFREC.
He said insect scouting, as well as pest and disease management, remain necessary practices even when the IPCs are used.
Alferez noted that there are different goals for mature trees already infected with HLB and for young trees. The goal for the mature trees is to maintain their production. The goal for young trees is to keep them free of HLB until they become productive or even longer.
Seasonal leaf drop seems to be muted by using IPCs, Alferez stated. “This is probably an effect of more stable conditions inside the covers,” he said.
Increasing the size of IPCs, sometimes referred to as “bags,” allows trees that were constrained by smaller IPCs to grow better. “We are increasing the room for the canopy to grow, and actually the canopy starts to spread really fast,” Alferez said. “In four or five days, you can see the spread of the new branches.”
Alferez reported that some citrus varieties are able to set fruit under IPCs with adequate horticultural management.
The IPCs are versatile; they can be used in both solid set blocks of young trees and on individual resets in mature groves, Alferez noted.
See Alferez’s full Citrus Expo presentation here. The presentation, and the continuing education units available to those who watch it, will remain on the Citrus Expo website through the end of 2020.
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