Current Research: Assessing Current Practices for Organic Growers Combating HLB

Huanglongbing (HLB) has impacted conventional and organic growers alike, but its effect on organic growers has run especially deep because the majority of the efforts to control the disease have involved methods that are prohibited in organic produce production. In addition, the research that has been completed on organic-compliant methods to fight Huanglongbing has mostly been conducted in non-organic settings delivering results that are not easily accessible to organic farmers and educators.

The Organic Center is collaborating with The University of Florida on a USDA-funded planning project will work toward equipping organic citrus growers with tools that will 1) allow them to increase the adoption of organic practices and 2) allow organic citrus farming to be more feasible and profitable to promote the success and expansion of the sector. Our overall objectives are to expand communication between the organic citrus growers across the U.S. and the research community, and to determine research and extension priorities to provide organic citrus farmers with tools to face the threat of Huanglongbing.

To achieve these objectives, we plan to conduct a needs assessment through a survey and workshop that will gather information on current organic-compliant strategies used to combat HLB, their successes and challenges. From this assessment we will develop and disseminate research priorities to build additional funding proposals to advance progress in fighting HLB in organic systems, and citrus as a whole.

Specifically, we aim to:

  1. Gather information through surveys and listening sessions on current techniques being utilized by organic citrus producers to combat Huanglongbing
  2. Assess Huanglongbing control research priorities at an in-person meeting to determine outreach and education needs for organic citrus growers across the country
  3. Using the assessment feedback, develop a systems-based research and extension proposal for project funding under the USDA NIFA Organic Research and Extension Initiative


Past Research: Organic Grower Guide for Fighting HLB

The Organic Center collaborated with USDA, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists, Dr. Kim Bowman and Ellen Cochrane to develop a farmer friendly report that consolidates existing literature on allowable methods for combating citrus greening in organic groves. It details science-based best practices for organic citrus growers.

Providing farmers with science based recommendations and best practices for the control of citrus greening is of critical importance for organic citrus producers in all citrus producing regions of the US. Organic citrus growers are prohibited from using antibiotics, synthetic pesticides, mineral fertilizers and genetically engineered citrus varieties, leaving them with few, poorly tested options for protecting their groves. While research specifically targeted at investigating control of citrus greening in organic systems is very limited, numerous and diverse studies have included methods that potentially could be incorporated into organic protocols. Unfortunately, studies that include organic compliant methods are almost always conducted in non-organic settings and in combination with treatments prohibited by the organic standards.  As a result, this information is not easily accessible to organic farmers and educators without significant effort to find and extract useful information embedded in larger studies. This project mines the existing body of scientific literature devoted to citrus greening, compiles relevant results and synthesizes them to create a farmer/nurseryman-focused document that details organic compliant practices for combating citrus greening disease and the Asian citrus psyllid vector.

Learn more about the guide for combatting citrus greening with organic-comliant methods here.