HLB Lessons Learned From Nepal

Josh McGill All In For Citrus Podcast, HLB Management, International

Citrus is grown in many different regions across the globe. Some of those places look very different than the Florida landscape. But that doesn’t mean growers in different regions can’t benefit from learning about how others grow their fruit.

Nepal
Nepal’s landscape is drastically different from Florida’s, but both areas have widespread HLB. (Photo by Sebastian Pena Lambarri)

That was the message from Christoper Vincent, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) assistant professor of environmental physiology, during the June episode of the All In For Citrus podcast. Vincent recently toured the citrus-growing region of Nepal.

The country in South Asia with a view of the Himalayas has been home to citrus production for centuries. Farmers there grow fresh fruit on hillsides (often terraced) in small family plots.

HLB was officially confirmed in Nepal in 1968, but it likely had been around before then. Like in other parts of the world, it has taken a toll on production. Vincent met with local growers to learn how the disease has impacted them and what measures they have taken to deal with the disease.

Like in Florida, Vincent said some plantings seem to be holding up to HLB better than others. In Nepal, the disease bacteria is widespread, and most trees are infected.

“One of the important things we saw was, where growers were using good irrigation practices and good mineral nutrition practices in terms of following local recommendations, trees really didn’t have a decline problem,” Vincent said. “They certainly had the bacteria, and you could see symptoms here and there, but those who were following good horticultural practices really didn’t have a problem with HLB.”

Vincent said there was a stark contrast in trees where good horticultural practices were not being followed. Those trees were seeing much more decline due to HLB. He said there are different reasons some growers didn’t follow good growing practices, such as lack of access or affordability.

Learn more about Nepal’s citrus-growing region and how local growers are faring in the HLB fight in the latest episode of the All In For Citrus podcast. The podcast is a joint venture of UF/IFAS and AgNet Media.

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Frank Giles

Editor-in-Chief, AgNet Media Publications

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