Citrus growers band together for area-wide psyllid control

10/07/2011 11:34:00 AM
Vicky Boyd

Webpage in the works

Eventually, a webpage will be created that includes a map with the location of each commercial citrus grove within each CHMA, a schedule of planned coordinated psyllid sprays, contact information for grower representatives and a news section to remind growers of upcoming CHMA planning meetings and planned sprays, Rogers says.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture and Florida’s Division of Plant Industry are counting psyllids in 6,000 blocks of citrus in three-week cycles. And Greg Carlton, chief of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Bureau of Pest Eradication and Control, has the responsibility for posting psyllid counts on the Web.

At the end of each cycle, he’ll place psyllid counts on an IFAS-hosted website——with a map of various CHMAs indicating whether psyllid populations are increasing or decreasing.

“The growers will take that information and use it to make decisions on when they’re going to spray,” Carlton says.

Counts will help

Colbert of A. Duda & Sons is glad to see that follow-up count.

“Now I’ll be able to look at a map on a website and see where populations of psyllids are getting bigger,” he says. “We might be able to cut out a number of sprays based on the evidence that we have. With the cost of input materials, nobody wants to spray repeatedly unless it’s absolutely necessary.”

The cost of spraying is $200 to $300 per acre per year or more, but it must be done.

“If you don’t control psyllids, it’s almost impossible to stay in business,” Colbert says.

Growers’ biggest objections to the program are cost and inconvenience, says Peter McClure, agricultural research manager for Evans Properties in Vero Beach.

If a grower wants to harvest when researchers say it’s the best time to spray, it’s a problem, he says. But growers generally have been cooperative.

“You have to work out the scheduling and the logistics with your neighbors,” McClure says.

The more growers who participate in a CHMA, the better off they’ll be, he says.

“Ultimately, the less you’ll have to spray and the cheaper it costs to control [the psyllids],” McClure says.

Growers interested in establishing a CHMA should contact their local IFAS citrus Extension agent, who will help arrange planning meetings and will be available to help develop a plan of action, Rogers says.

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