The Peace River Valley Citrus Growers Association (PRVCGA) hosted growers and industry members on National Orange Juice Day to discuss early experiences with trunk injection of oxytetracycline hydrochloride (OTC-HCl). Two new OTC-HCl products, ReMedium TI and Rectify, were registered this season for use as an HLB treatment in Florida citrus.
While some growers are taking a wait-and-see approach to trunk injection, others have wasted no time in getting OTC-HCl into their trees. Bo Meador, PRVCGA president, moderated the discussion and invited attendees to share their early experiences with product applications.
“I’m not on the fence. I think it works,” said Meador. “We have to do it if we want to stay in business.”
There were a few common themes among the growers who shared their experiences. Several noted that while leaves may turn yellow soon after OTC-HCl application, trees quickly recover and show improvement in health. However, they acknowledged that stress from the ongoing drought followed by recent rains could have contributed to the yellowing and subsequent greening.
Growers agreed that it is easy to tell the difference between treated and untreated trees. Citrus grower Roy Petteway noted that trees that were in poor health and destined to be pushed were putting out a new flush after OTC-HCl application.
Petteway grows nursery and commercial trees in addition to caretaking 400 acres. He said he’s completely on board with trunk injection. “We are telling our customers that if they aren’t doing injections, they won’t be growing citrus anymore,” he said.
According to Petteway, trunk injection is the only option Florida citrus growers have left. “All our customers have bought in to it. They are out of money but swallowing the costs and hoping to recoup their expenses from a potential Hurricane Ian block grant.”
While many growers said they are using the full rates of OTC-HCl, Petteway used a half rate on some sicker Hamlins. “It has been 60 to 90 days since application, and you can see the difference in the trees. There is a significant bump in the grove.”
Another common thread is that growers are hiring contractors to do the labor-intensive applications. Some growers have used both ReMedium TI and Rectify, but no noticeable differences in performance were reported.
Matt Joyner, Florida Citrus Mutual chief executive officer, said that two growers who did an early trial of OTC-HCl injection in March 2022 reported positive results. In 26-year-old Valencia trees, Brix climbed by nearly a point, and trees produced larger and more abundant oranges. Fruit size and count showed consistent improvement in both trials. Joyner said it was encouraging to see that grower trial results were consistent with the product registrants’ trial results.
Joyner added that Invaio is working to get a new OTC-HCl formulation registered. This product would be applied using a less laborious, more mechanized method of trunk injection that does not require drilling holes in trees.
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