There is some buzz among citrus growers that new HLB therapies are beginning to show positive results in trees. But visual observations of trees are subjective and can vary from grove to grove and grower to grower.
The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) has developed a new tool for growers that will provide a more quantitative measurement of citrus tree health. The new technology, called Canopy Assist, is the subject of the latest All In For Citrus podcast.
Michael Rogers, director of the UF/IFAS Citrus Research and Education Center (CREC) in Lake Alfred, led a discussion with Tripti Vashisth, UF/IFAS associate professor of horticultural sciences, and Amit Levy, UF/IFAS assistant professor of plant pathology, on how Canopy Assist can benefit growers.
“It is tough to eyeball a tree and get a sense of what these therapies are doing,” Rogers said. “This tool will allow growers to get some actual data behind it.”
Using Canopy Assist is fairly simple. It requires someone to take photos of the citrus tree’s canopy and then upload the images on the CREC website. The images are then analyzed and given a canopy health score.
“More leaves equal more fruit,” Vashisth said. “And canopy health is the best way to assess the health of HLB-infected trees.”
The program analyzes how much the tree’s canopy intercepts light. The more light the canopy catches, the healthier the tree is, because there’s more leaves to capture the light. The analysis doesn’t need to actually measure the HLB bacteria in trees, thus making the process quicker and less costly. In fact, Canopy Assist is free to growers.
“When we are sick, we don’t count how much virus we have, we measure our body temperature (a symptom of the virus),” Levy said.
To learn more about how to use Canopy Assist and where to get it, don’t miss the May episode of All In For Citrus. The podcast is a joint venture of UF/IFAS and AgNet Media.
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