Although a Fundecitrus researcher recently called the HLB situation in Brazil “alarming,” the organization says the industry has the knowledge needed to manage the disease. HLB is also known as citrus greening.
“The management package exists and is efficient. The problem is that, in order to reduce costs, it is not applied rigorously, correctly and in an integrated manner,” said Juliano Ayres, general manager of Fundecitrus. “The reduction of greening will be proportional to the adhesion of citrus growers and the intensity of management.”
Studies by Fundecitrus and other institutions have already proven the effectiveness of control measures and that it is more advantageous and economical to avoid HLB than to live with it. A projection by the institution indicates that without the management measures adopted since 2004, the incidence in the citrus belt would already be similar to that in Florida. Fundecitrus said the HLB incidence rate in Florida exceeds 90%.
“Much has been discovered about greening, and research is ongoing, with promising results constantly shared and new alternatives being made available to citrus growers and incorporated into the field,” Ayres said. “Where all management recommendations are strictly followed, complementing each other, the disease is being well controlled and even decreasing, even if the climate is favorable.”
Fundecitrus pointed to Brazil’s Matão region in the state of São Paulo as an example of how HLB can be controlled. Matão was the only region in Brazil’s citrus belt that showed a drop in the incidence of greening in 2021, according to an annual survey by Fundecitrus. The fact that the incidence declined in the Matão region shows that it is possible to reverse the current situation of growth of the disease, Fundecitrus stated. The disease incidence in the Matão region went from 14.47% in 2020 to 9.77% of trees being infected in 2021.
Even when new groves are excluded and trees eradicated by greening in 2020 are included in the estimate, a continuous drop in the incidence of greening in Matão was observed. According to Fundecitrus researcher Renato Bassanezi, that shows it is possible to control HLB when all the recommended measures are adopted by most of the citrus growers.
“The high rigor in the control of the psyllid inside the orchards and the joint actions carried out by the citrus growers outside the farms are essential and effective to combat the disease,” Bassanezi said. “Our studies indicate that the adoption of internal and external greening controls has the potential to reduce the incidence in the region by two to three percentage points each year, which is extremely significant.”
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