Michael Rogers is the director of the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Citrus Research and Education Center in Lake Alfred, Fla., where researchers are using state funds to tackle citrus greening disease. ( Courtesy University of Florida )

University of Florida researchers, using funds from the state Legislature, are attacking citrus greening disease through a number of projects.

The state’s Citrus Initiative program in 2017-18 funded 12 projects that look at short- and long-term solutions to the disease, also known as huanglongbing (HLB).

Some of the research is promising, according to a news release from the university’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS).

In one project, researchers are spraying Homobrassinolides — a type of plant hormone — on trees infected with HLB. Preliminary results show improvement in the health of trees, including an increase in fruit size, according to a news release.

“We focused on both short- and long-term research that moves us closer to viable grove management as well as possible tactics that a grower might experiment with immediately,” Michael Rogers, statewide director of citrus programs for IFAS and director of the Citrus Research and Education Center at Lake Alfred, Fla., said in the release.

Other research includes:

  • The use of huge screened-in areas in the Citrus Under Protective Screen (CUPS) program. Trees grown in “houses” of about 20 acres remain free of the Asian citrus psyllid, which spreads HLB.
  • Training and educational materials for growers and residents, to help them identify canker, HLB and other diseases.
  • Research into fertilizers used on infected trees. Field trials in three parts of the state are being used for new guidelines on fertilizing orange and grapefruit trees.

Information on many of these projects will be presented at the 2018 Citrus Expo Aug.15-16 in Fort Myers, Fla.