Since citrus greening was introduced into Florida, growers have implemented costly insecticide programs to manage the Asian citrus psyllid, the vector of the bacteria that causes HLB. All those engaged in developing and implementing HLB management tactics agree that vector management is critical in reducing the effect of this serious pest of commercial citrus in Florida.
Research and observation have indicated that utilization of area wide coordinated insecticide sprays has been very effective in reducing overall Asian citrus psyllid populations in the treated areas. Growers throughout the state have formed citrus health management areas to coordinate applications and pass this information to other growers.
Asian citrus psyllid populations are normally higher in areas where there are commercial citrus plantings. When coordinated insecticide applications are completed on a majority of commercial citrus plantings in an area during a relatively short window, one or two weeks, psyllids “find nowhere to hide” and are easier to manage.
For various reasons, implementing the CHMA approach to psyllid management has been a challenge in many of the citrus production areas in central Florida. With input from area growers and caretakers, one of our progressive citrus producers in the region, Rex Clonts, has taken on the challenge of scheduling area wide insecticide applications to manage psyllids. To increase the efficiency of making coordinated sprays, Rex has approached a contractor who will apply insecticides by helicopter. The contractor is interested in cooperating with area growers who have groves where aerial application is possible.
Aerial application will cost $10 per acre plus cost of insecticide. Area growers and caretakers are going to try to coordinate ground applications in groves where aerial application will not be utilized within the time frame of the aerial applications (one week) with the first round scheduled for January 25-31, 2013. Once application schedules are determined, growers will need to coordinate having chemical available to the applicator. Insecticide modes of action will be rotated throughout the season to prevent resistance development to within psyllids.
Information for specific applications will be updated as soon as possible on the Central Florida Fruit Crops website.