Growers are looking at mesh bags for citrus as an alternative to the startup expense of CUPS to fight citrus greening, but is it cost-effective?

Florida citrus growers are looking for any way to effectively thwart citrus greening and the tiny insect that spread the disease, the Asian citrus psyllid. One of the most effective options so far has been Citrus Under Protective Screens, or CUPS, but the startup costs are high. Many citrus growers are looking to use mesh bags for citrus as protections similar to CUPS, but many wonder if it is a profitable move. A presentation at the 2019 Florida Citrus Growers’ Institute by Ariel Singerman, an economist with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS), attempted to answer that question, according to a Citrus Industry article. See the details below.

Mesh Bags for Citrus

In general, mesh bags for citrus are used when citrus trees are young to give them time to grow and mature, free of citrus greening. The bags, also called Individual protective covers (IPCs), have been shown in a recent year-long study to keep young trees free of citrus greening. This will likely turn into increased yields and longer tree life one the trees start producing fruit.

However, citrus growers want to crunch the exact numbers to know if the mesh bags are profitable. “The answer to the question of whether they’re (mesh bags) profitable or not is it depends,” shared Singerman at the Institute. He maintained that variables like fruit yield, fruit price, the cost of the bags, and the labor involved in installing and removing them, make it hard to pin down the exact profitable nature of the mesh bags.

For growers looking for savings that will be more immediate than long term, Singerman shared that growers can count on saving the cost of insecticides, “There’s also the savings that growers can achieve by using the bags. They save on the chemicals that they would otherwise put on the tree.” According to another article on the bags, they cost about $8.50 each.

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