The EPA approved the use of bactericides in the fight against citrus greening, or HLB, in August. Florida citrus growers were already using bactericides due to an emergency declaration allowing them to use them in the spring of 2016. Over the summer, citrus growers were asked to complete surveys on the bactericides they used to combat citrus greening. Studies have also been on-going to find something that will defeat or even slow down the citrus greening bacteria. Study results for one bactericide seems to show real promise.

Citrus Greening History

Citrus greening was discovered in a South Florida grove in 2005. Since then, annual harvests have fallen from 200+ million boxes of citrus a year to just 81.5 million boxes in the 2015-2016 harvest year. A recent study estimated that 80 percent of Florida’s citrus trees are infected with the disease. Another study calculated that the industry could only remain solvent until 2019 unless something changes drastically. Many are hoping that bactericides will be the silver bullet the industry needs.

Bactericides Study Details

The study was conducted by the UF/IFAS Citrus Research and Education Center in Lake Alfred, Florida. Led by Nian Wang, a UF/IFAS associate professor of microbiology and cell science, the study showed the bactericide oxytetracycline to be successful in controlling the citrus greening bacteria when injected into the trunks of infected citrus trees. In a UF/IFAS release on the findings, Wang maintained that the tree trunk application—rather than spraying the trees—was beneficial for a number of reasons. The study showed the bactericide injections:

  • Targeted the citrus greening-causing bacteria and reduced bacteria levels for up to nine months
  • Wouldn’t degrade due to sun or rainfall like other treatment methods
  • The injections delivered the bactericide to the trees’ leaves and root systems
  • Would cost approximately $4 a tree or $560 an acre based on 140 orange trees in an acre.

Wang maintained that one injection a year to infected trees would likely be enough to keep the citrus greening bacteria under control.

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.