It’s recommended that HLB infected trees be taken out if and when there start showing up in commercial groves in California and growers say Florida would be in a much better position if they would have done the same.
Florida citrus grower Pete Spyke says the practices Florida growers are using to stay afloat with huanglongbing (HLB) disease won’t matter to a fresh fruit industry. “It is universally true that if you remove HLB infected trees and you are aggressive about that, your annual losses will be in the three or four percent range. You plant trees back into HLB-free groves and it’s life just like you know it today,” Spyke says. “If you were not to remove them and allow HLB to get established out in California, than the Florida methods to produce fruit won’t work out there because they’re in the fresh fruit business.”
Spyke says California growers need to be prepared to face a tough reality if HLB trees start showing up in groves and his state would be in a much better position today if they would have done the same several years ago. “You only have one choice,” Spyke says. “Control the psyllid as much as you can but sooner or later HLB is gonna get loose. When you see it, you must go to the barn that day and get a chainsaw and chop down the tree. If anyone is thinking any different than they need to reconsider.”
“If Florida would have done that in the first place we would be far better off than we are today even if we had to remove a third of our trees,” Spyke says. Watch Spykes full interview with AgNet West.