Growers have been deploying several new therapies aimed at improving the health of HLB-infected citrus in recent years. Plant growth regulators like gibberellic acid, 2,4-D and brassinosteroids have demonstrated the ability to improve tree health and help in fruit retention. More recently, direct delivery of oxytetracycline hydrochloride (OTC-HCl) via trunk injection has been approved for use in groves.
There is hope these therapies will move the needle against HLB, but sometimes it is hard to gauge tree-health improvement. Tripti Vashisth, an assistant professor of horticultural sciences with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS), joins the March All In For Citrus podcast to give a sneak peek of a new technology she and her colleagues have developed to help growers assess tree health in their groves.
The tool, called Canopy Assist, is a smartphone app that will score citrus tree health based on images captured by the phone. She said tracking of tree health will become even more important as growers initiate trunk-injection programs in their groves.
Christa Court, UF/IFAS economist and director of the Economic Impact Analysis Program, joins the podcast to discuss the economic impact of Florida’s citrus industry. Despite the decades-old challenge of HLB, Court said the sector still contributed nearly $7 billion in economic output in the 2020-2021 season. The citrus industry also supported 32,542 full-time and part-time jobs. The stats show citrus still commands a significant spot in Florida farming.
The March podcast also features previews of upcoming events. The Florida Citrus Growers’ Institute and Florida Grower Citrus Show will be held in April. Hear more about these educational and networking events in the latest episode of All In For Citrus. The podcast is a joint partnership between UF/IFAS and AgNet Media.
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