HLB Research Priorities

Josh McGillAll In For Citrus Podcast, HLB Management, Research

HLB Research

Michael Rogers, director of the University of Florida of Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) Citrus Research and Education Center in Lake Alfred, discussed the recent Florida Citrus Growers’ Institute in the April All In For Citrus podcast. The event drew a good crowd of growers who came to learn about the latest research aimed at HLB.

HLB Research
Michael Rogers amongst citrus trees at the CREC. Photo taken 02-02-21.

Rogers made a presentation at the event that focused on the urgency to find solutions growers can use today to fight HLB. He said UF/IFAS scientists are listening to growers’ requests for short-term research projects.

According to Rogers, it’s important for growers and others in the industry to have input on how funding is directed toward HLB research. In December 2019, a meeting was held in Washington, D.C., with stakeholders to identify key HLB research priorities. Four major categories of short-term research were identified during the meeting.

Category One: Understanding citrus phloem biology and its interaction with HLB

“Things like therapeutics that we develop for HLB will be affected by the phloem of the citrus plant,” Rogers said. “One of the areas we could have a better understanding of is this phloem biology.”

Category Two: Evaluation of therapeutics and delivery methods

“This has been an area that industry has heard a lot about. These are treatments like oxytetracycline,” Rogers said. “If we can find one treatment that works, it could provide us with great near-term benefits.”

Category Three: Maintaining health of HLB-infected trees 
“What tools and/or practices do we have available now that growers can use to help these trees stay productive until we find longer-term solutions down the road?” Rogers asked. “This includes things like the use of gibberellic acid to improve the health of HLB-infected trees.”

Category Four: Citrus nutrition and delivery methods

“While this is similar to category three, the group recognized the importance of nutrition as part of an overall HLB program,” Rogers said. “If we don’t have the right nutrition being delivered to trees, they are not going to be productive.”

The All In For Citrus podcast is a joint project of UF/IFAS and AgNet Media. Hear more from Rogers in the April episode.

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