A UF/IFAS professor shared how lasers play a huge role in “rehabilitating” trees with citrus greening.

Scientists are looking everywhere for a solution to citrus greening, either in a cure or workable treatment. Lasers may be part of a promising treatment that helps citrus trees affected by citrus greening to rehabilitate. A professor of horticultural sciences with the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS), Ed Etxeberria, shared in a recent article on CitrusIndustry.net on how lasers are part of a new treatment that can help citrus greening-infected trees to receive treatments and recover. See the details below.

Lasers and Citrus Greening Treatments

According to the article, the lasers make it easier for treatments that combat citrus greening can reach inside the leaves. Citrus leaves have a waxy cuticle that repels sprays, meaning sprayed treatments are only so effective. The lasers shoot infra-red energy pulses at the leaves, which creates tiny cracks in the leaves’ cuticles. These cracks allow spray treatments, like bactericides, to get into the leaves and be more effective at fighting citrus greening. “With this system, you can provide the citrus trees — or other crop plants — with the necessary crop protection products directly on the leaves,” Etxeberria shared.

We have vastly improved the basic parameters of the technology by using different laser wavelengths and other optics to make this a much more user-friendly technology, not to mention its increased efficiency and lower cost,” Etxeberria said in the article. According to the article, Etxeberria maintained that the use of this technology increases the penetration of agrochemicals and sprays into the leaves “by more than 4,000 percent.”

“The laser technology ensures chemical sprays that are needed to move systemically within the citrus plant to fight diseases such as greening are able to do so instead of remaining on the leaf surface where they are less effective,” Etxeberria said. Benefits include enhanced uptake of treatments and a reduction in the amount of agrochemicals required. The next step is developing the technology for grove treatments.

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