University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences research seems to indicate that there is an innovative way to manage Huanglongbing (HLB) disease. Arnold Schumann, UF/IFAS professor at the Citrus Research and Education Center claims that citrus under protective screen production systems (‘CUPS systems’) have increased yields with zero effect from HLB.
CUPS has kept out the Asian citrus psyllid, which spreads HLB, preventing the disease for six years now at CREC. This was achieved, even though the CUPS system is located next to trees infected with the disease and its vector. Schumann reported that the growth rate of the trees in the CUPS system nearly doubles the rate of healthy trees outside.
According to an article on citrusindustry.net¸ Schumann compared the large grapefruit yield from CUPS to traditional production. “If you consider just the marketable fruit coming out of endemic HLB, first it takes about five years to get started and then maintains at best, about 200 boxes per acre. If you figure out how many years it would take for that situation to get to 4,000 boxes per acre, it would take 25 years, easy,” Schumann concluded.