Florida Citrus Growers Cite HLB As Top Threat

Florida Citrus Growers Cite HLB As Top Threat

Citrus growers are making changes to their crop protection programs to defend groves from Asian citrus psyllid (ACP), which transmits HLB. According to a survey of 2014 Florida Citrus Show attendees, 93% said HLB is the most significant threat to the citrus industry. Nearly 100% of respondents said the devastating disease and its insect carrier have influenced industry crop protection programs.

The survey, sponsored by DuPont Crop Protection, collected information from citrus producers, crop and pest consultants, university researchers and Extension specialists, agriculture retailers, and distributors during the recent event in Fort Pierce, FL.

Grove Longevity At Stake

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Defending citrus yields is always on growers’ minds, but HLB has shifted priorities. In the survey, 56% of respondents said grove longevity is the primary objective of protecting flush. That long-term thinking emphasizes the severity of ACP and HLB.

Photo by Paul Rusnak

Photo by Paul Rusnak

“Insect-vectored HLB infection is a serious threat to the future of U.S. citrus production,” said James Hay, business director, North America, DuPont Crop Protection. “We take that very seriously and are committed to working with producers to continue to discover and develop crop protection solutions that help them extend and increase grove production.”

New Strategies Critical

Second only to investing in crop nutrition programs, revised crop protection programs are a primary way citrus producers are minimizing the threat of HLB infection in their groves, according to survey respondents. Among the group surveyed, 33% reported increasing nutrition and 20% said they have changed their crop protection strategies. Another 21% reported taking no steps to reduce HLB threat.

Nearly two-thirds (62%) said they will consider adding new rotational partners to their crop protection programs in 2014. Other tactics include replanting with resets, planting new varieties, and rootstock management.

“As a market-driven science company, DuPont is investing significant resources in bringing new technology to citrus growers that help solve their problems,” said Hay. “These tools not only help protect trees at the critical spring and summer flush periods, but also have been shown to help improve yield even while grove productivity in general has declined.”

DuPont Exirel and Verimark insect control powered by Cyazypyr are two new options that support long-term grove viability through early protection in mature, fruit-bearing, and young citrus trees and resets. These products provide a new mode of action against a cross spectrum of sucking and chewing pests such as ACP and leafminers that vector the devastating HLB and citrus canker diseases. (Verimark is registered for use on trees under five feet tall).

Source: DuPont Crop Protection