Progress With HLB Products

Josh McGill Citrus Expo, CRDF, HLB Management

Rick Dantzler, chief operating officer of the Citrus Research and Development Foundation (CRDF), spoke during the general session of the Citrus & Specialty Crop Expo. He provided an update on products he hopes will help the citrus industry reset and begin to increase production again. The products are two oxytetracycline (OTC) materials that can be injected into citrus trees.

Rick Dantzler told Citrus & Specialty Crop Expo attendees that two new promising HLB treatments could be available to growers soon.

“We want to begin this march back to where we were in 2014, producing about 100 million boxes,” Dantzler said. “With that we can maintain infrastructure, and I think we can sell that much orange juice. That allows a lot of these other therapies to keep trees from declining to the point in the past three years where we saw them fall off the cliff.”

Dantzler said TJ BioTech is further along in the process of achieving federal and state approvals for its OTC product. The company has provided the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with what it hopes will be the final required information from the agency on residue studies. EPA will soon let the company know whether it recommends a 24(c) label from the state or a Section 18 label.

If a 24(c) label is submitted, EPA has 90 days to respond to the state. If a Section 18 is requested, EPA has 45 days to respond. The second OTC company will not have its label submission ready for EPA until the spring but expects a quick turnaround. Dantzler said that means help is hopefully on the way sooner than later.

“I feel like within a reasonably short time frame we are going to have this (OTC) therapy available to growers,” Dantzler said. “We believe it works. Dr. Ute Albrecht, University of Florida professor of plant physiology, is doing some research, which CRDF is helping to fund to document what the products are doing rather than just what the companies are telling us. We are very hopeful about these products.”

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Frank Giles


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