Stop HLB Vector, Spanish Group Says

Ernie NeffHLB Management

HLB vector
Trioza erytreae

The Valencian Association of Farmers (AVA-ASAJA) recently stated it is essential that the Spanish government and the European Union (EU) prevent the advance of Trioza erytreae, vector of the citrus disease HLB. The association issued that statement after learning that the insect has reached the Algarve (southern Portugal).

The vector’s advance from the north and center of the Portuguese country to the citrus fruits of the Algarve raises the possibilities that HLB will end up reaching citrus in Spain and other European countries, AVA-ASAJA stated.

AVA-ASAJA suggested that governments “take all the actions that science allows in order to stop the spread of this plague or, at least, slow down the speed of its geographical progression.”

The agrarian organization suggested an ambitious plan endowed with community funds aimed at promoting lines of research, breeding and mass release of highly effective parasitoids against HLB-transmitting vectors. AVA-ASAJA noted that the predator Tamarixia dryi has managed to reduce the presence of Trioza erytreae by more than 90% in citrus farms in the Canary Islands. It added that there are international studies on parasitoids that could also combat the other HLB vector Diaphorina citri, which is even better adapted to the Mediterranean climate.

In the event that the HLB bacteria arrives later, the association urged the exploration of more forceful complementary measures such as the felling of infested trees. AVA-ASAJA also called on the Spanish government to better coordinate with Portugal “in order to know the evolution of the situation and to be able to act in the most coordinated and forceful way possible.”

“Now we are facing … the worst threat to the world’s citrus industry,” AVA-ASAJA President Cristóbal Aguado said. “In the absence of curative solutions, the best medicine for HLB is prevention, but it may not be enough, and stronger measures will have to be taken.”

Source: The Valencian Association of Farmers

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