New HLB Find Is Likely Farthest North in Florida

Ernie NeffHLB Management

HLB

What is believed to be the most northern HLB find in Florida was made the first week of November in a backyard Satsuma tree in Tallahassee. A homeowner sent photos of the tree’s symptoms to Leon County Extension horticulture agent Mark Tancig, who collected samples that were confirmed as HLB.

“I’ve told the homeowner he should remove it (the tree), and he’s going to get on it after he gets back from the Thanksgiving holiday,” Tancig reported.

University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/FAS) entomologist Xavier Martini believes this is the state’s farthest north HLB find. He said no other HLB finds had been made in the Tallahassee area. Martini plans to scout the area soon.

Martini, who works at the North Florida Research and Education Center (NFREC) in Quincy, said the nearest commercial citrus groves to the find are in Quincy and Monticello. Those cities are approximately 23 miles and 32 miles, respectively, from the Tallahassee find.

HLB has previously been found in North Florida in Franklin, Suwannee and Taylor counties, Martini reported.

Martini said UF/IFAS has developed a five-point HLB strategy for growers in North Florida that goes by the acronym SAFER:

  • Scout your grove (sticky traps and flush inspection) for Asian citrus psyllids (ACP) on a regular basis, especially from June to November.
  • Act: If you find ACP in your grove, do not wait. Treat immediately with a foliar application. Scout your grove one and two weeks weeks later to see if the application has been efficient. Contact your local IFAS Extension agent.
  • Find trees with HLB: Visual inspection. Send any suspicious samples to the plant clinic at the NFREC. Scout with canine detection (every year or twice a year depending on the threat for HLB).
  • Educate your neighbors and colleagues about the need to control ACP and to monitor their groves for HLB.
  • Remove immediately any tree positive for HLB.

“Please report any new finding to your local UF/IFAS agent,” Martini said. “What happened in Leon County (where Tallahassee is located) is exactly how things should work. We were informed on time, and we were able to deliver the information to the homeowner quickly.”

Martini said UF/IFAS is starting an Extension program to evaluate control strategies available for homeowners against ACP. “Our objective is to control ACP in residential areas before it spreads in our groves,” he said.

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About the Author

Ernie Neff

Senior Correspondent at Large