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Florida citrus industry battles more challenges than HLB

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In addition to citrus greening disease, growers in certain parts of Florida are also contending with other citrus diseases.

“The biggest concern, especially in Southwest Florida right now, is citrus black spot,” says Michael Rogers, who is a professor of entomology at the University of Florida and director of the Citrus Research & Education Center in Lake Alfred.

“It does reduce yields, but it’s more of a quarantine issue for growers, especially if they wanting to export fruit,” he says.

Lee, Hendry, and Collier counties are the three main areas affected. “We’re fortunate we haven’t seen the disease spread across the state rapidly,” he says. “I think growers are learning to manage it and doing a very good job.”

Another problem is postbloom fruit drop.

“When you have trees flowering and a prolonged trickling of bloom through the late winter or early spring, this fungal pathogen builds up in the grove, causing the fruit to drop immediately once you have petal fall,” Rogers says. “That’s a tough one to deal with because HLB (huanglongbing) causes the bloom not to be quite as synchronized. So, we’ve had more problems with postbloom fruit drop than in the past.”

Heavy rainfall during bloom can exacerbate the situation. “Fortunately, we’ve had low levels of rain the past couple of years during bloom, which helps tremendously,” Rogers says. “Everyone is going to keep an eye on the weather going into next year’s bloom starting in January 2019, because it could pop up again and cause problems.”

This is an excerpt from the most recent Produce Blueprints quarterly journal. Click here to read the full article.


Amy Bell is a professional freelance writer with more than 15 years of experience. She writes for publications and companies across the nation. Visit to learn more.