A Florida researcher discusses the sources of Asian citrus psyllids.
Asian citrus psyllids are an important topic in Florida’s citrus industry at the moment, as citrus growers try to find the best way to beat citrus greening, also known as HLB, a disease that has caused over a 70% drop in citrus harvests since it was detected a little over a decade ago. Trying to control Asian citrus psyllids, the tiny insects that spread the bacteria that causes citrus greening, is a major focus of Florida citrus growers, but it’s expensive. The profit margins from citrus have grown so thin that there isn’t much room for additions like sprays for Asian citrus psyllids. One Florida researcher discussed Asian citrus psyllids in a Citrus Industry Magazine article; read his words below.
The Source of Asian Citrus Psyllids
Michael Rogers, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences entomologist and director of the Citrus Research and Education Center, maintained that Florida’s approach to fighting citrus greening has been different than other citrus states, like California and Texas. “Areas like Texas and California, their focus has been on combating psyllids in the urban areas,” Rogers said. “They’ve identified most of the psyllid movement in the commercial groves (as) coming from dooryard trees. So a lot of their focus has been on controlling citrus psyllids in the dooryard.”
The large number of abandoned citrus groves in Florida still takes a toll, according to Rogers. “However, if you look at Florida, our situation is a little bit different,” he shared. “We have a lot of either abandoned groves or groves that receive minimal management. And when those groves continue to flush, there’s actually a lot more trees in those situations that are potentially producing psyllids. And so the risk for us (in Florida) is much greater coming from those abandoned or minimal-managed groves compared to dooryard trees.”
The overall consensus is that controlling Asian citrus psyllids is essential.
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Image courtesy of USDA ARS Image Gallery.