Citrus Health Forum

Citrus Health Forum Helps Cold-Hardy Growers

Daniel Cooper Cold Hardy

Citrus Health Forum
Muhammad Shahid (left) and Fernando Alferez (right) of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences conducted a grove tour during the Citrus Health Forum.

Production in the cold-hardy citrus region is still in its infancy. Growers and industry leaders need events like the Citrus Health Forum to obtain the necessary information to help this young industry continue to flourish. The latest forum took place at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) North Florida Research and Education Center in Quincy on Feb. 22.

Muhammad Shahid, UF/IFAS assistant professor of horticulture, talked about the event, which attracted growers from North Florida, South Georgia and South Alabama.

“We try to cover insect pests, disease-related issues and things like planting and irrigation,” Shahid said. “We have two field days, one in the spring and another in the fall. In the spring, we do focus more on the planting, because we know in April that planting is coming.”

A key topic addressed at the Citrus Health Forum was huanglongbing (HLB) disease, also known as citrus greening. It is a disease that has devastated production in Central and Southern Florida. Northern growers want to avoid a similar fate. They learned about recent HLB and Asian citrus psyllid (the vector of the disease) research being conducted at the UF/IFAS Citrus Research and Education Center and how reducing inoculum is vital for control of HLB.

Growers also learned about other citrus pests like leafminers and their impact following the Christmas freeze event in 2022. Guidelines pertaining to pruning, grove establishment and irrigation were also discussed. “It’s a newly emerging industry, and there’s a lot of things we need to address. We have many areas where we have to help the industry and provide them with useful information,” Shahid said. “We don’t have HLB (in the cold-hardy region), but we have some other challenges like leafminer. Our insects are totally different versus South Florida.”

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Clint Thompson

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