CUPS, the growing method used to combat citrus greening, has shown advantages for grapefruit.
Citrus greening is still a huge threat to the Florida citrus industry, affecting both oranges and grapefruit. A few growers are turning to the Citrus Under Protective Screen growing method, or CUPS. The idea is to keep the Asian citrus psyllid completely separated from citrus trees by screens, so the small insect can’t infect the citrus trees with the bacteria that cause citrus greening. The CUPS method had shown a lot of promise so far, and a new study shows added benefits for grapefruit, too. The study was discussed in a Growing Produce article; see a summary below.
Benefits of CUPS for Grapefruit
Research conducted by a team led by Rhuanito Ferrarezi, a UF/IFAS Assistant Professor of citrus horticulture with the UF/IFAS Indian River Research and Education Center (IRREC) in Fort Pierce, has shown that grapefruit grown under CUPS grow better than those in unprotected groves. “Growing young trees in screenhouses may allow growers to produce greening-free trees. The ultimate benefit of growing citrus trees in the screenhouses would be increased yield and fruit quality.”
They conducted two different studies, growing grapefruit in a screenhouse versus open-air and in-ground versus containers. Their findings showed:
- “Screenhouses reduced solar radiation and maximum wind gusts, among other environmental variables.”
- “Screenhouses provided a better growing environment for in-ground grapefruit because the protected structures accelerated young tree growth compared with open-air plantings.”
“We don’t have enough years of data to guarantee the screenhouses are superior. Even though the results are showing that trend,” Ferrarezi said.
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