Advantages and History of Trunk Injection

Josh McGill HLB Management, Pesticides

Plant physiologist Ute Albrecht recently gave a presentation on increased fruit yield and other apparent benefits of injecting the antibiotic oxytetracycline into citrus tree trunks. The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researcher also discussed other advantages that trunk injection provides. These advantages include:

  • Precise delivery of materials
  • Elimination of spray drift
  • Reduced risk for worker exposure to materials
  • Reduced risk for non-target organisms
  • Reduced pesticide load into the environment
  • Potentially longer residual activity of materials
trunk injection

Albrecht said trunk injection has been used in forest trees, non-crop-bearing ornamental trees, large woody shrubs and palms in residential and commercial landscapes. The practice is also used on some crop-bearing agricultural crops including avocado, peach and pear. According to Albrecht, trunk injection is used to manage laurel wilt in 20% of Florida’s avocado acreage.

Trunk injection has been utilized to target insects, nematodes, fungi, bacteria and phytoplasmas. It has also been used for delivery of nutrients and growth regulators.

The modern definition of trunk injection is the targeted delivery of crop protection materials into the stem or trunk of a woody plant as an alternative to spraying or soil drenching, Albrecht said.

Crop protection may not have been on the multi-talented Leonardo da Vinci’s mind when he experimented with injecting trunks in the 15th century. Albrecht said da Vinci injected arsenic and other poisonous solutions through bore holes into apple trees to make the fruit poisonous. She did not say why he wanted to poison the fruit.

Albrecht reported that Arabic horticulturists used a form of trunk injection as far back as the 12th century. They applied perfume, spices, dyes and other things to wounds to affect the smell, color or other attributes of flowers and fruits. 

View Albrecht’s presentation.

About the Author

Ernie Neff

Senior Correspondent at Large

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