Explore how experts say citrus flush is the key to the citrus greening disease cycle, and thus the key to breaking it.


Citrus greening is enemy #1 in the Florida citrus industry, and the best and brightest minds in citrus research are trying to figure out how to stop this scourge. One avenue to fighting citrus greening, also known as HLB, is to fight the Asian citrus psyllid, the vector that spreads the HLB bacteria. According to a CitrusIndustry.net article, researchers with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) believe that the psyllid’s reliance on citrus is flush could be the key to fighting HLB. See details.

The Relationship Between Psyllids and Citrus Flush

Asian citrus psyllids need citrus flush—the soft new shoots and leaves citrus trees put out a few times every year—both as a food source and as a platform for laying their eggs. However, the tender young citrus tissues of flush are only useable to the psyllids for about 15-20 days. It’s this window that researchers are interested in, according to the article.

Horticulture expert and assistant professor at the UF/IFAS Citrus Research and Education Center in Lake Alfred. Christopher Vincent said, “flush is the key to the HLB disease cycle.” Researchers are hoping that manipulating when flush occurs will mean better baiting and trapping psyllids and better use of psyllid spraying. “We want to capitalize on the fact that it’s possible to control when the flush appears,” he explained.

Flushes could be planned, using compounds like naphthalene acetic acid, and trees pre-treated with a contact insecticide to kill those psyllids attracted to the flush and their eggs. “It’s unlikely that we can kill all of the psyllids that come to a grove, but we believe we can eliminate a large percentage of that group, and also reduce the number of eggs they lay,” Vincent said in the article. “Lots of details need to be worked out before we can optimize the approach and recommend it to growers.”

Vincent and the team hope to have initial recommendations based on the research within a year, according to the article.

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