Solutions are slim.
Crop numbers are down.
Growers are fed up.
Yet amidst all of the negativity associated with citrus greening, the industry is holding strong – perhaps more united than ever.
As citrus greening continues to compromise the production of Florida’s signature citrus crop, industry leaders and supporters continue to strengthen forces, endeavoring to battle and beat this incredibly invasive, seemingly insurmountable problem.
In late January 2014, a strong collective of growers, packers, and other industry stakeholders gathered at the Florida Citrus Show eager to talk solutions.
Ideas were tossed around including:
- Replanting. A tree replant program is being pushed to counter the dwindling tree supply as a result of heavy grove clearing campaigns.
- Antimicrobial research. Additional research is required to enhance delivery systems, develop a time-release formula, and to potentially find more HLB-fighting molecules. Greater pressure must be placed on Citrus Research and Development Foundation members for more research on the use of antimicrobials.
Glimmers of hope surfaced including:
- Disease-resistant rootstocks. Promising disease-resistant sour orange and sour-like rootstocks are in their initial phases.
- Antimicrobial treatment of HLB. Quite a few molecules have successfully killed Liberibacter in the greenhouse. Future testing (about a year away) will experiment with field application.
- RNAi treatments. These treatments may disrupt Asian citrus psyllids via a non-transgenic approach.
But still, no one knows when a cure is coming.
Patience is waning, but fighting attempts are not.
The industry continues to forge ahead, more determined than ever to nix HLB from the groves for good.
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