Metalized polyethylene mulch to repel Asian citrus psyllid, slow spread of huanglongbing and improve growth of new citrus plantings
Greening or huanglongbing (HLB) is a debilitating disease of citrus caused by Candidatus Liberibactor asiaticus and transmitted by the Asian citrus psyllid (ACP), Diaphorina citri. HLB now occurs worldwide in all major citrus growing regions except the Mediterranean and Australia. Management relies principally on insecticidal control of the ACP vector, but is insufficient, even for young trees which are most susceptible to the disease. We tested the ability of metalized polyethylene mulch to repel adult ACP as well as effects on incidence of HLB and early tree growth.
Metalized mulch significantly reduced ACP populations and HLB incidence compared to whiteface mulch or bare ground. In addition, metalized mulch, together with the associated drip irrigation and fertigation system, increased soil moisture, reduced weed pressure, and increased tree growth rate.
Metalized mulch slows spread of ACP and therefore HLB pressure on young citrus trees. Metalized mulch can thereby augment current control measures for young trees based primarily on systemic insecticides. Additional costs could be compensated for by increased tree growth rate which would shorten time to crop profitability. These advantages make a compelling case for large-scale trials using metalized mulch in young citrus plantings threatened by HLB. © 2013 Society of Chemical Industry