The best and the brightest minds in science and agriculture are working tirelessly to beat citrus greening, also known as HLB. Citrus greening is caused by bacteria that infect citrus trees, and then the trees slowly decline, with orange production decreasing, until the trees die.

The current treatment for citrus greening includes detecting infected trees and treating those trees with everything from the best nutritional inputs to special heat treatments to removal of the infected trees. As part of the ‘best and brightest minds’ group, a UF/IFAS research team has found an early way to detect citrus greening, even before the trees show symptoms.

Detecting Citrus Greening

The earlier a citrus grower can detect citrus greening, the earlier treatments or actions to fight the disease can get underway. According to a article, Won Suk “Daniel” Lee, an agricultural and biological engineering professor with UF/IFAS, and Alireza Pourreza, a former post-doctoral researcher in the UF/IFAS agricultural and biological engineering department who now works for the University of California Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center, used a time-lapse polarized imaging system to detect symptoms of HLB in citrus tree leaves.

For the study, the duo inoculated citrus plants with HLB bacteria and then utilized a time-lapse imaging system to track changes in the leaves. They detected higher levels of starch in the leaves, which is a sign of greening, according to the Citrus Industry article. Through use of the imaging system, the researchers were able to detect signs of citrus greening approximately a month after the trees became infected.

Pourreza was quoted in the Citrus Industry article as saying: “Citrus growers in California, Florida and Texas are very interested in employing this detection method to protect their groves. This methodology was basically designed to show the greening hot spots in the grove.”

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.