One of the key components of managing HLB is keeping its vector, the Asian citrus psyllid (ACP), in check. Management recommendations for the pest have evolved over time. The history of that evolution is a subject of discussion in the November episode of the All In For Citrus podcast.
Lukasz Stelinksi, an entomologist with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS), joined the podcast to discuss current recommendations for ACP. He said good management starts with a solid scouting program. He recommends that growers get out in the grove every month to scout for the pest.
“Let’s say you have a block of trees. You can monitor 10 trees in that block with tap samples. You tap a branch with something like a clipboard beneath it. If you tap 10 trees and count the highest threshold, I’d recommend it is one psyllid per tap (on average),” Stelinksi said. “If you’re counting one psyllid per tap on average, it is time to spray. That level of psyllids is eating your yield. If you really want to be aggressive, you could drop that threshold to 0.2 psyllids per tap on average.”
Stelinksi recommends always spraying during the dormant period between January and February. This is when the trees are not growing and there is less flush for the psyllid to feed on. That can be a calendar spray. This really helps start the season off with a good foundation when it comes to ACP control.
“After the dormant spray, scouting should direct ACP applications. If there are no psyllids or they are below threshold, don’t spray. You can save your money,” he said. “By following this threshold, you can reduce your ACP sprays down to maybe four or five per year.”
To hear more about the evolution of ACP management, check out the latest episode of All In For Citrus. The podcast is a joint partnership between UF/IFAS and AgNet Media.