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All In For Citrus Podcast, November 2023

Daniel Cooper All In For Citrus Podcast, HLB Management, International

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Michael Rogers, the director of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) Citrus Research and Education Center, and some of his colleagues recently attended the Asian Citrus Congress in India. During the November All In For Citrus podcast, Rogers discusses what was learned and observed on the trip.

While many of India’s citrus groves are small-scale operations, the country’s citrus production is growing. This is despite being among the first countries to deal with HLB, because the disease’s origins are believed to be in Asia. Rogers said a Florida contingent visited several citrus-producing areas in India to learn how growers are surviving with HLB.

“If you look at where India sits, they are ranked No. 3 in global citrus production. If you look at metric tons produced, they are a big player in citrus,” Rogers said. “The United States is No. 6 on the list, and they are doing almost double the production that we are.”

Rogers said it is worth looking at how India’s citrus industry is continuing to survive and grow in the presence of HLB. At the conference, HLB was top of mind because it seems the disease is causing more problems recently than in the past.

“That raises the question: Why now for these growers? We heard from the speakers that there has been a lot of changes in weather patterns, and it is creating a new environment for citrus that is playing a role in HLB expression in that part of the world,” explained Rogers. “They are seeing a lot of variation not so much in the amount of rainfall but in the distribution of rain. So, there are now extended periods of time where there is no rain, followed by a lot of rain. This is causing issues for the trees and root health.”

Rogers said, like in Florida, these stresses put on trees are allowing HLB symptoms to be expressed more acutely. This is driving growers and researchers to develop more region-specific water management practices in India to deal with these changing weather patterns. To hear more from Rogers, check out the November episode of All In For Citrus. The podcast is a joint partnership between UF/IFAS and AgNet Media.

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Frank Giles

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