Individual protective covers (IPCs) on citrus trees have become a more common sight in Florida groves in recent years. The bags that cover young trees exclude the Asian citrus psyllid (ACP) from feeding on the plants, thus protecting them from HLB. Some estimates suggest that more than 1 million IPCs are now deployed in the state’s citrus groves.
During the January 2022 All In For Florida Citrus podcast, Fernando Alferez, an assistant professor and citrus horticulturist with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS), gave an update on a multiyear research project to evaluate the effectiveness of IPCs. The trial looked at young trees both uncovered and covered by IPCs.
Eighty percent of uncovered trees tested positive for HLB by six months. Within a year, all the uncovered trees tested positive for HLB. “By contrast, none of the trees covered by IPCs were testing positive for the disease, so the covers were protecting the trees from HLB,” Alferez said.
“We had no fruit drop in the trees that were covered, versus 60% fruit drop in trees that were not covered,” Alferez added. “The trees also had larger canopies and bigger and better leaves than those that were uncovered.”
In addition to protecting trees from ACP and fruit drop, the trial also illustrated that IPCs improved yield and the fruit quality significantly. Low Brix in fruit has been a big story as the 2021–22 season unfolds. Listen to the January episode of the All In For Citrus podcast to hear how Brix numbers in covered trees compared to those in uncovered trees.
The All In For Citrus podcast is a joint project of UF/IFAS and AgNet Media.
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