Grower Panel: OTC a Net Positive So Far

Daniel CooperEvents, HLB Management

The panel participants from left to right: Ute Albrecht, Glenn Beck, Jim Snively, Wes Soria and moderator Rick Dantzler.

Florida Citrus Mutual recently hosted a roundtable discussion about the performance of trunk-injection therapies as growers are making their second round of applications. The grower participants included Jim Snively, Southern Gardens Citrus; Glenn Beck, Beck Bros. Citrus and Wes Soria, Sorrells Citrus. University of Florida scientist Ute Albrecht also joined the panel to provide a research update. Rick Dantzler, chief operating officer of the Citrus Research and Development Foundation, moderated the panel.

Dantzler kicked off the discussion by noting that the results of oxytetracycline (OTC) injections have been mixed. The performance has not been as good as what was hoped for in Hamlins and in older trees that have been in decline for a long time due to HLB.

However, all the growers on the panel agree OTC has been a net positive. They are hopeful that as more applications are made, cumulative benefits will build. Snively said field trials convinced him to apply OTC on the farm’s entire acreage.

“The result this year (after our first treatment) was a 157% increase in our early varieties. So far, we’ve harvested about 200 acres of Valencia; they are up about 300%. The hurricane didn’t affect us like it did many of you. And another thing, our oldest trees are 15 years old. I have 6-, 8- and 10-year-old blocks, so they are the perfect age to receive this treatment.”

The panel discussion drew a good turnout of growers eager to learn more about trunk-injection therapy.

Snively added that the increase in yield is coming from groves where yields were already very low due to HLB. So, the increases they are seeing are still not where they need to be to remain viable, but at least they are moving in the right direction.  

Soria said the groves he oversees were devastated by the hurricane, so he can’t put numbers to how the trunk injection has performed but he offered an observation.

“We all know how poor the quality was this year. But generally, I believe the tree health has improved. As we move forward, the quality should improve. I do feel like it is a step in the right direction, and I hope as the years go by we will see continued improvement.”

Beck emphasized that trunk-injection therapy is one of the biggest HLB breakthroughs to come along in the HLB era.

“We have employed just about every method and compound out there,” Beck said. “We have changed fertilizer formulas whether it be liquid or dry. We have sprayed 2 quarts of this and a pint of that. We have done this for years. We saw more positive results from one OTC injection than all of that put together.”

Beck, Snively and Soria said they will continue OTC treatments.

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