HLB Research Is Focus of Short Videos

Ernie NeffHLB Management

Smaller fruit are more likely to drop than larger fruit.

Two short videos about HLB-related research were available at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) booth at Citrus Expo in August. The videos are available online for viewing.

UF/IFAS researcher Tripti Vashisth narrated the video, HLB-Associated Preharvest Fruit Drop. She said up to 40% of fruit can drop from mildly HLB-symptomatic trees shortly before harvest, and that up to 70% of fruit can drop from severely HLB-symptomatic trees. Because fruit that drops from the tree cannot be harvested, “it’s a big loss for the grower,” she said.

Researchers have been focusing on the cause of the fruit drop, Vashisth reported. “Once we know what is the reason … then we can do something to reduce it.”

Some key findings of Vashisth’s research are that smaller fruit tend to drop more than larger fruit, and that trees with fewer leaves tend to drop more fruit. She reported that gibberrelic acid, a plant growth regulator, has been shown to reduce fruit drop.

Read more about improving yields with gibberrelic acid.

Finger Limes Proven Tolerant to HLB was narrated by UF/IFAS researcher Manjul Dutt. Dutt reported that the finger limes, a citrus relative, are only present in Australia. “Our main focus is to understand what causes the finger limes to be tolerant … and how we can utilize that knowledge to develop HLB-tolerant citrus,” he said.

Dutt said his research has two major challenges. The first is that it takes a long time to determine if hybrid plants that are developed hold up in the field and have acceptable fruit. The second challenge is funding.

“We are working hard to solve the HLB issue, and the problems that the growers are facing … are always on our minds, 24/7, as we devise solutions to tackle this important problem,” Dutt said.

Source: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences  


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