The citrus industry is expanding in Georgia. With that growth comes the need to slow the spread of the Asian citrus psyllid (ACP), the vector of HLB disease. Although not yet found in Georgia’s commercial citrus production, there have been confirmed HLB-positive residential citrus trees.
The disease has the potential to greatly hinder the state’s citrus industry. Therefore, University of Georgia (UGA) Extension has been proactive rather than reactive.
The only reliable means of detection for ACP are yellow sticky card traps or visual scouting during periods of pest activity. Foliage that displays mottling characteristics can be tested to indicate if the disease is present.
Jonathan Oliver, fruit pathologist and Extension specialist at UGA, believes tracking movement of ACP via trapping is paramount for Georgia. Oliver recently gave an update on an ACP trapping project during the 2021 virtual Southeast Regional Fruit and Vegetable Conference.
The project, led by the Bryan County Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension program, began in 2019. Traps were distributed to homeowners and growers alike to monitor for the presence of ACP. Population levels of the ACP in citrus groves can be estimated to time insecticide sprays and to track the movement of this pest in Georgia.
Thirty-five counties in the southern regions of the state have trapping efforts. According to Oliver, prior to 2019, nine counties reported psyllid presence. Since trapping efforts began, the ACP has only been found in two of those counties, Camden and Lowndes.
Data collected from this project will lead to an updated map of where psyllids have been found. Counties that have positively identified the problem can send in samples to the UGA Plant Pathology lab to be tested for citrus greening to proactively prepare Georgia citrus groves.
Growers interested in participating in these efforts should contact their local Extension office or Richard Evans (email@example.com) to receive traps.
This article was written by Ashley Robinson, multimedia journalist for AgNet Media in Gainesville, Florida.