One avenue for controlling the spread of the microorganisms that cause citrus greening is to try to control the method through which the disease spreads: the Asian citrus psyllid. Citrus growers treat their groves with insecticides to target the minuscule insects as part of their overall strategies for fighting citrus greening. However, a recent seminar presentation given by Brandon Page relayed that psyllid levels continue to rise.

Asian Citrus Psyllid and CHMAs

Page is a University of Florida Citrus Health Management Area (CHMA) Program Coordinator. CHMAs have been formed “to encourage neighboring citrus growers to work together to combat citrus greening,” with a special emphasis on controlling Asian citrus psyllid populations. Page maintained that record levels of Asian citrus psyllids in Florida have been reported since April of 2016, an undesirable metric in the fight against citrus greening.

The population growth of the invasive insect is thought to be a result of abandoned citrus groves where all maintenance, including spraying for the psyllid, has ceased. These abandoned groves, believed to number over a hundred thousand acres for all of Florida, create a breeding ground for the HLB-transmitting bugs.

Page also shared that there’s another factor contributing to the increases in psyllid populations. He believes there’s a pattern of “money being allocated away from psyllid control into other grove inputs,” Page said in a Citrus Industry article.

A Tale of Two Groves

A study presented by Page of two different CHMA groves illustrates how important it is to control psyllid populations. Both groves produced exactly 324 boxes of citrus per acre in the 2008-09 harvest year. Then, for the next six years, the two groves experienced different levels of psyllid control. The one with the lesser controls and higher psyllid population produced only 155 boxes per acre in the 2014-15 harvest season. The grove with the increased controls and lower psyllid population produced 287 boxes per acre in the same time frame. The study illustrates the need for proper psyllid control across all Florida orange groves as part of an overall plan for the fight against citrus greening.

Griffin Fertilizer is committed to helping both growers and ranchers make sound agronomic and economic decisions in order to maximize the health of their grove and pasture. As a full-service custom dry & liquid fertilizer blender and crop protection product distributor, we will continue our mission to further advance Florida agriculture. For questions or concerns about your farm or pasture, contact us and one of our team will be in touch.

Image courtesy of Florida Department of Agriculture.