Research by a UF/IFAS assistant professor of citrus horticulture indicates IPCs and brassinosteroids keep young trees free of citrus greening.

Florida citrus growers have been searching for a treatment that helps young citrus trees to remain free of citrus greening before reaching fruiting maturity, and one UF/IFAS researcher may have found a winning combination. Fernando Alferez, a UF/IFAS assistant professor of citrus horticulture, has been conducting research into the combination of IPCs and brassinosteroids to help young citrus trees to stay free of citrus greening until they reach maturity, according to a Citrus Industry article, and the results are promising. See the details below.

Using IPCs and Brassinosteroids

According to the article, young citrus trees in Florida have about a 60 percent infection rate after six months, and a 100 percent infection rate after a year without interventions. This seriously lessens a citrus tree’s life span and quality of production. To help citrus trees to avoid citrus greening infection in the two years or so it takes for new citrus trees to bloom and set fruit. Research has shown that Individual Protective Covers (ICPs) are very effective at keeping Asian citrus psyllids (ACPs) from feeding on the new citrus tree and infecting it with the bacteria that cause citrus greening. The research showed that IPCs also improved fruit size and fruit quality.

However, once the ICPs come off, infection is imminent and the tree will start to fail in health and production. Fernando Alferez thought to combine IPCs and brassinosteroids to help extend the amount of time young citrus trees are free from citrus greening. According to the article, the early research so far has been promising, showing “that brassinosteroid applications will slow the rate of HLB infection in newly uncovered trees.” Alferez maintained that he is continuing the research.

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