The Peace River Valley Citrus Growers Association hosted a grower forum in September to discuss how trees are looking after the first application of oxytetracycline (OTC) has been injected. The event had a good turnout, and growers were mostly optimistic about what they are seeing in groves.
Nearly all in attendance have treated at least some portion of their acreage with OTC. Growers who have applied the treatment say there is a noticeable improvement in flush and the overall look of the trees. But, as one grower noted, this is the time of year when trees generally look better. How much fruit holds on the tree and quality will provide a better insight on OTC performance.
It was noted that the U.S. Department of Agriculture recently performed maturity tests in groves, and the Brix and pounds solids were significantly better than in the past four years. This is an early but hopeful sign that quality is trending better.
“In the groves we manage, the fruit size is much bigger than we’ve seen over the past several years. Now, we’ll just see if all stays on the tree,” one grower noted.
There was general agreement that between Halloween and Thanksgiving has been the timeframe when fruit drop has begun in recent years. “Well, now that the fruit is bigger, it will make a lot louder noise when it drops,” a grower joked.
Some concern was raised about trunk splitting or injury at the injection site. While not widespread, it is something the growers in attendance agreed they don’t like seeing on trees. An emphasis must be placed on taking the time to do injections correctly to help avoid damage.
Several growers also discussed seeing more snails showing up in some groves. In some areas, the infestation can be so bad that the snails entirely cover irrigation emitters and tree trunks. The pest seem to be more of a localized problem, but numbers can grow large in spots where they are bad. There are several baits and other materials that can manage the pest effectively; learn more.
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