Growers should monitor for pests and diseases, even in the citrus under protective screen (CUPS) systems designed to keep HLB-spreading psyllids out of trees, according to entomologist Jawwad Qureshi. He told more than 25 people participating in a Dec. 1 virtual seminar that CUPS “are not foolproof systems,” and said citrus can’t be grown successfully without pest management. Qureshi works for the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences at the Southwest Florida Research and Education Center in Immokalee.
Qureshi said growers should scout to reduce risk and avoid surprises. Scouting can lessen damage to trees and fruit, lower production costs, optimize inputs and maximize profits. “If you let them (pests and diseases) go unrecognized, they can grow up to high populations” even in CUPS, he added.
Regarding control of the HLB-spreading Asian citrus psyllid (ACP), Qureshi reported that:
- Significant effects of organic insecticides with 435 oil on ACP control and yield indicate potential use in all citrus.
- An organic management plan will help control ACP in organic citrus and its spread to other habitats.
- Conventional growers will have the option of diversifying their programs by including organic insecticides.
- Reduced use of conventional insecticides will help conserve and augment biological control, reducing secondary pest outbreaks, pesticide resistance and residue issues.
- Successful area-wide management of ACP and HLB will require use of all available tools and an integrated approach.
In addition to ACP, Qureshi discussed other pests of citrus for which growers should scout. These pests include aphids, whiteflies, blackflies, mealybugs (including the Lebbeck mealybug found in Florida in recent years), mites, leafminers, thrips, fruit flies and root weevils.
Qureshi also talked about some beneficial insects. He said ladybeetles and lacewings are predators of ACP and several other pests.
Multi-county citrus Extension agent Mongi Zekri hosted Qureshi’s virtual presentation.
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