HLB, spread by the Asian citrus psyllid (ACP), has been the scariest and most destructive disease that Florida citrus growers have ever faced. So, it was fitting that entomologist Jawwad Qureshi made a virtual presentation about ACP/HLB on Halloween, often considered the scariest day of the year.
Qureshi, a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences associate professor, offered the following conclusions about research into ACP control:
- Foliar sprays of insecticides timed to citrus flushing provided a significant reduction in ACP populations compared to the “grower standard” spray program.
- Significant effects of organic insecticides and 435 oil on ACP control and yield provide pest management opportunities for organic growers and use of integrated pest management in citrus.
- Reduced use of conventional insecticides helps to conserve and augment biological control and reduce secondary pest outbreaks, pesticide resistance and residue issues.
- Biological control is still a significant component of ACP management.
- Individual protective covers (IPCs) and citrus under protective screen (CUPS) protected citrus from ACP/HLB. However, citrus leafminers, scales, thrips, mealybugs, armyworms and mites were detected in these structures. A slide in Qureshi’s presentation indicated that the number of fruit on trees covered with IPCs for three years was almost double the number of fruit on trees that weren’t covered.
- Monitoring is critical for both protected and traditional open production systems for timely decisions on pest management.
Qureshi works at the UF/IFAS Southwest Florida Research and Education Center in Immokalee. He and multi-county citrus Extension agent Mongi Zekri, who hosted the seminar, both noted that ACP was discovered in Florida in 1998. The pest quickly spread to all citrus-producing counties in the state. Because of the wide-spread distribution of the HLB-spreading ACP, it didn’t take long for regulators to declare that HLB could not be eradicated once the disease was detected in Florida in 2005. HLB has since devastated the state’s citrus industry, drastically reducing acreage and fruit production.
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