From HLB Grower Day: Cutting Psyllid Control Costs

Ernie NeffEconomics, HLB Management, Psyllids

Approximately 200 Florida citrus industry members attended the HLB Grower Day on April 21 at the Citrus Research and Education Center (CREC) in Lake Alfred. Speakers summarized scientific presentations made at a recent international HLB research conference. Michael Rogers, an entomologist and director of the University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences CREC, discussed control of the Asian citrus …


CRDF President Discusses Bactericides

Ernie NeffBactericides, Citrus Greening, HLB Management

Tom Jerkins, president of the Citrus Research and Development Foundation, several years ago led a crowd at Florida Citrus Mutual’s annual meeting in chanting, “We need bactericides now!” The bactericides, which growers hope will significantly reduce HLB impacts on citrus trees, have been available to citrus growers for more than a year now. Most growers reportedly are using them, at …


Psyllid Movement and Location in Trees

Ernie NeffHLB Management, Psyllids

University of Florida entomologist Kirsten Pelz-Stelinski presented an abundance of facts about Asian citrus psyllids at the recent Florida Citrus Growers’ Institute in Avon Park. Her presentation included a discussion on how far the HLB-spreading psyllids can travel and where they are predominantly found in citrus trees. “They’re quite capable of long-distance movement, about four miles we determined,” Pelz-Stelinski says. …


Keys to Gulf Citrus Production

Ernie NeffHLB Management, Nutrition

Several Florida growers recently have said that groves in the Gulf citrus region of Southwest Florida are looking better than most groves in the state. Additionally, statistics indicate production in the Gulf region exceeds production in the state as a whole. Multi-county citrus Extension agent Mongi Zekri, who represents the Southwest/Gulf region, was recently asked why the Gulf was doing …


Getting Water pH Correct in the Face of HLB

Ernie NeffCitrus Greening, HLB Management, Irrigation, Water

University of Florida (UF) researcher Kelly Morgan discusses a study of how citrus growers are adjusting irrigation water pH levels, and what pH levels seem to work best. The acid level of citrus irrigation water has become an important consideration since HLB was discovered in Florida groves in 2005. “Jim Graham (a fellow UF researcher) has been conducting a survey …


Bactericide Grower Trials for HLB ‘Extremely Variable’

Ernie NeffBactericides, HLB Management

Stephanie Slinski, Citrus Research and Development Foundation bactericide project manager, discussed grower trials on the use of bactericides for HLB at the Florida Citrus Growers’ Institute in Avon Park on April 4. She summarizes the presentation. “We have a series of field trials set up throughout Florida to test the efficacy of oxytetracycline and streptomycin just in the grower program,” …

Controlling ACP and Other Pests as Critical as Ever

Tacy CalliesCitrus Greening

By Jawwad A. Qureshi and Philip A. Stansly More than a decade has passed since 2006, when huanglongbing (HLB) or citrus greening disease was identified in Florida. By then, the disease had already spread widely and went unrecognized due to high psyllid populations and a disease incubation period of months or years between infection and symptom expression. Nevertheless, management of …


New Peace River Executive Discusses Citrus Issues

Ernie NeffCitrus Greening, Research, Water

Steve Smith became executive director of the Peace River Valley Citrus Growers Association (PRVCGA) in early March. He discusses some of the issues the association will address. “Obviously the research is a major focus right now with greening. That’s at the top of everybody’s list, trying to find some solutions.” Water issues historically have been a major focus for the …

Highlights from the International HLB Conference

Ernie NeffCitrus Greening, HLB Management

Harold Browning, chief operations officer at the Citrus Research and Development Foundation (CRDF), provides an overview of activities at the recent International Research Conference on HLB held in Orlando. The conference was hosted by Florida Citrus Mutual, with much assistance from CRDF. “There were nearly 500 participants from 24 countries” including for the first time scientists from Cuba, Browning reports. …

Phil Stansly: Psyllid Slayer

Tacy CalliesCitrus, Citrus Health Management Areas, HLB Management, Pests

By Ernie Neff Gulf citrus growers had a CHMA (citrus health management area) before CHMAs were popular — even before they were called CHMAs! Phil Stansly, University of Florida (UF) entomology professor, is among those credited with organizing Florida’s first psyllid- and HLB-fighting CHMA. Others recognized for the achievement include Gulf Citrus Growers Association (GCGA), Florida Cooperative Extension Service and …

The Texas Psyllid/HLB Experience

Ernie NeffCitrus Greening, HLB Management

John da Graca, director of the Texas A&M University Kingsville Citrus Center in Weslaco, was among hundreds attending the International Research Conference on HLB March 15-17 in Orlando. He summarizes the Texas industry’s experience with HLB and the Asian citrus psyllids that spread the disease. “Psyllids arrived (in Texas) about 2001,” da Graca says. “At the time it wasn’t seen …

Safeguarding Citrus Stock

Tacy CalliesCitrus Greening, Regulation

By Georgios Vidalakis On March 30, 2007, I received a memorable phone call in my office at the University of California (UC), Riverside. “Georgios,” said the caller, “The 2008 Farm Bill will establish the National Clean Plant Network (NCPN) for specialty crops. This program will be like no other because it will be driven from the ground up. The system …

Psyllids, PFD

New Highlands President on PFD, Psyllids and More

Ernie NeffHLB Management, PFD

Billy Barben, new president for the Highlands County Citrus Growers Association (HCCGA), says he is optimistic that new fertilizer programs and future genetic trees “will give us hope in the future.” Barben, whose brothers, Bobby and John, have also served the association as president, says, “I’m more of the dirt guy in my family.” As a grower, he has opinions …

HLB, breeding

An Update on Breeding Against HLB

Ernie NeffCitrus Greening, Genetic Engineering, HLB Management

University of Florida researcher Jude Grosser recently discussed a broad range of research aimed at mitigating the effects of HLB during an OJ Break in Sebring. Among topics he covered are the possibility of windbreaks that kill HLB-spreading Asian citrus psyllids, and progress on trees that are HLB resistant or tolerant. Regarding psyllid-killing windbreaks, he says, “We do have a …


Pathologist to Tackle HLB and Other Diseases

Ernie NeffCitrus Greening, HLB Management, PFD

Ozgur Batuman, a new citrus plant pathologist at the Southwest Florida Research and Education Center, discusses the diseases he’ll work on. “I am planning to of course tackle some of the more pressing issues that citrus growers are facing these days, one of them being huanglongbing (HLB), and confronting its vector, Asian citrus psyllid,” he says. He will also research …

bactericides survey

‘It’s Not a Pretty Picture,’ Industry Leader Tells State Senators

Ernie NeffCitrus Greening, Legislative

On February 21, leaders of three key Florida citrus organizations acquainted the Florida Senate’s Agriculture Committee with the issues facing the citrus industry. They summarize their presentations: “It’s not a pretty picture,” says Florida Citrus Mutual CEO Mike Sparks. He describes the huge production losses and increased costs that HLB disease has created. “Right now our whole future revolves around …

HLB, microbiology

Soil Microbiologist Discusses Work

Ernie NeffHLB Management, Research

Sarah Strauss became a University of Florida soil microbiologist at the Southwest Florida Research and Education Center at Immokalee in late May 2016. She discusses the ways she hopes to help citrus growers. “There’s a lot of exciting things in soil microbiology,” Strauss says. “There’s a lot of new technology that we didn’t have just five years ago. And so …


Micronutrients for Root Health and HLB

Ernie NeffCitrus Greening, HLB Management, Nutrition

University of Florida researcher Jude Grosser, best known for his work on citrus breeding, has become a champion of micronutrients to improve root health and battle HLB. At a recent Highlands County OJ Break, he discussed the use of micronutrients, including why he got involved. “I guess just like any farmer, you don’t like watching your plants get sick and …

Continuing a Legacy of Leadership

Tacy CalliesCitrus, Citrus Greening, Citrus Health Management Areas, Regulation

By Tacy Callies Callie Walker comes from a long line of Florida farmers. In 1875, her family set up homestead in Alva. Her father, uncles, grandfather and great-grandfather have been involved in a diversity of agricultural fields including citrus, cattle, sugar cane, vegetables and row crops. “My dad and his three brothers still run the family operation — citrus and …