Florida citrus growers have known for several years that individual protective covers (IPCs) do a good job of excluding HLB-spreading Asian citrus psyllids from young trees. “But those protective covers also protect from things like Diaprepes abbreviatus,” researcher Larry Duncan told the recent Citrus Expo audience. Duncan is a nematologist at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) Citrus Research and Education Center.
Before HLB became the worst-ever scourge to Florida’s citrus industry in 2005, many growers whose trees suffered from diaprepes root weevil damage declared diaprepes to be their most serious problem.
Duncan explained that the IPCs work by excluding the diaprepes adults from young trees. The diaprepes lifecycle that leads to citrus tree damage begins with adult diaprepes entering the tree canopy to lay eggs. Larvae emerge from the eggs and fall onto the ground. The larvae then enter the soil below the tree and feed on the tree’s roots, causing extensive tree damage. “If it (the adult diaprepes) can’t get in there (to the tree), it breaks that cycle,” Duncan said. He explained that use of IPCs has led to the diaprepes lifecycle being broken for the first time.
By preventing HLB infection in young trees, IPCs also lead to trees seemingly becoming tolerant of other pests and diseases, Duncan said. “They seem to tolerate problems like sting nematode better just simply by virtue of not having the citrus greening (another term for HLB). We can’t even tell there are nematodes in trees that have been covered.” Trees that are planted in areas of high nematode infestation and covered with IPCs “just grow wonderfully,” he added.
Learn more about the value of IPCs in excluding psyllids from young trees, which has led to the trees remaining HLB-free for more than two years after planting.
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