Grower Trials # 4 – John Gose-Lykes Bros-Highlands Co.

Gary Cooper Citrus

These excerpts from a recent column of John Gose, Lykes Bros, President of Highlands County Citrus Growers Association. He writes:

Citrus Canker finds continue to pop up in Highlands County. I know I have addressed it before but I can’t emphasize enough how important it is for all growers to be aware of where active Citrus Canker is located with respect to your groves. One of the grove locations I manage had Canker confirmed a few weeks ago as well as our neighbors to the south. I have been in touch with that neighbor and am very fortunate that we have a neighbor willing to do what it takes to control this disease. We plan to work together and share ideas for control measures so that both of us will be successful in this battle. I would like to see more of this cooperative effort between growers in Highlands County. I plan to bring this up in our next board meeting to see what can be scheduled as far as informal meetings on a regular basis in order for us to communicate what has been successful. I know growers around the state have tried many different practices from pruning to monthly sprays and I have heard various results. Believe it or not, we are in this together and we stand a better chance for success together than we do trying to figure a solution on our own.

Once we have Canker finds close to or actually in our groves we must change our production practices. Growers will find it necessary to re-think the way they conduct their daily business. For example: Conducting working in a block that has active Canker is not a real good idea when the trees are wet and should be avoided, especially if the work requires contact with tree foliage. Our spray programs will change especially for process fruit growers to one of a fresh fruit operation. Decontamination strategies for personnel and equipment should be adhered to and probably become more stringent for these blocks.

Citrus Greening has not officially become a major problem for Highlands County growers yet. When I say yet I mean it is only a matter of time. We do not want to let our guard down. I was talking with a D.P.I. entomologist and discovered some interesting information. Greening positive psyllids have been detected in the Lake Placid area in psyllids collected in a residential setting. The Entomologist would not be specific as to the location however no plant tissue was showing any signs visual or through testing. The same situation has occurred in Polk County east of Lake Wales. They actually collected psyllids out of fruit trailers coming on to highway 60 and found a large percentage to be greening positive. I wanted to mention this to demonstrate that Greening will be found in Highlands County and we all better have a plan to deal with it. Again we are in this together and united we stand a much better chance for success than we do alone.