Survey under way to analyze impact of citrus greening on organic growers

Sep 14, 2020

Researchers seek help in developing solutions to address citrus crop devastation

Going directly to those hurt most by the devastating citrus greening disease, researchers are asking organic citrus growers and other organic stakeholders to help them develop a holistic research program in their fight against the ruinous disease.

Citrus greening disease has been decimating domestic citrus in the United States over the past decade, and organic growers have been hit especially hard with few effective tools to control the disease. A research team led by the University of Florida is collaborating with The Organic Center, University of California, Riverside, a number of organic citrus growers and industry members to conduct a national review of how citrus greening disease is adversely impacting organic growers and other industry members.

Researchers are asking organic growers to fill out a survey based on their knowledge and experience about this devastating disease on their citrus crops. Here is the survey link. Information gathered will be used to develop a large-scale holistic research project proposal targeted toward protecting organic citrus growers from citrus greening, slowing its spread, and reducing damage to currently infected groves.

The project is funded through the USDA Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI) program.

More commonly known as citrus greening disease, 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 prohibited in organic produce production. In addition, the research completed thus far on organic-compliant methods to fight HLB has mostly been conducted in non-organic settings, delivering results that are not easily accessible to organic farmers and educators.

This project will work toward equipping organic citrus growers with tools to allow them to increase the adoption of organic practices and make organic citrus farming more feasible and profitable. The 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 HLB.

“To achieve these objectives, we plan to conduct a needs assessment through this survey and a workshop gathering 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,” said Dr. Jessica Shade, Director of Science Programs at The Organic Center.

Specific aims include:

  • Gathering information through surveys and listening sessions on current techniques being utilized by organic citrus producers to combat Huanglongbing
  • Assessing HLB control research priorities at an in-person meeting to determine outreach and education needs for organic citrus growers across the country
  • Using the assessment feedback, developing a systems-based research and extension proposal.

Researchers are requesting that survey responses be submitted by October 20. More information on this project is available on The Organic Center’s website.