HLB management

By Jaci Schrekengost

As huanglongbing (HLB) continues to decimate citrus crops, researchers continue to search for new, efficient ways growers can manage the disease.

HLB, also known as citrus greening disease, is vectored by the Asian citrus psyllid. The disease affects the entire tree, including the roots and fruit.

Tripti Vashisth, assistant professor and citrus Extension specialist at the University of Florida (UF), says one main concern with HLB is nutrition based on the size of the roots in HLB-infected trees. She says another researcher found HLB-infected trees have smaller root mass compared to trees that are not infected.

The concern with smaller root mass in these trees is whether they are moving the same amount of nutrients as the trees that do not have HLB.

According to the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Citrus Extension website (http://www.crec.ifas.ufl.edu/extension/greening/index.shtml), “Root systems of infected trees are often poorly developed, and new root growth may be suppressed.”

Vashisth says in a new greenhouse study that she and other researchers conducted, it was actually concluded that the roots in HLB-infected trees move nutrients more efficiently than trees that do not have HLB. The issue with nutrients not reaching the top of the tree is due to the smaller mass of the roots.

The way to solve this concern is to allow a constant supply of nutrients to the HLB-infected trees, Vashisth says. “Continuous supply of fertilizer in any form is working best,” she says.

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