Garden View: Protecting citrus trees

BY BARBARA STORZ

In South Texas we are proud of the tasty citrus fruit we produce. Our soils and temperatures contribute to making our citrus the finest in the world. But it doesn’t come without issues, as citrus greening disease is a problem in our region.

Citrus greening disease is caused by a bacterium that enters the plant through the feeding of the Asian citrus psyllid, a tiny insect that carries the disease. Once the tree has the disease, there is no recovery. The Asian citrus psyllid likes to lay its eggs on new growth, so this is the best time for the psyllid to find the right environment.

Our warming temperatures have resulted in new growth on trees and you will be able to see new shoots and the light green color of new leaves. When this happens, you need to decide which chemical you want to use to protect your trees against citrus greening disease, or, if you would like to use beneficial insects against the Asian citrus psyllid.

If you would like to protect your trees with chemicals, several options are available, including organic chemicals. You can get a copy of the approved chemicals at the Hidalgo County office of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. To print a list of suggested options, go to their website: https://hidalgo.agrilife.org. Choose “Gardening” at the top of the opening page, then “Citrus Greening Disease,” and the list is entitled “Materials for controlling Asian Citrus Psyllid.” You can also call the office at (956) 383-1026.

If you would like to use beneficial insects to control psyllids, this is the time to release the beneficial insect, Tamarexia radiata. It will seek out Asian citrus psyllids on trees, take them out, and move to the neighbor’s trees when populations on your tree are destroyed. Re-apply the Tamarexia radiata approximately four times a year as new flush appears.

These beneficial insects are available from beginning at 9 a.m. today at the Growing Growers Farmers Market. These insects are free and made possible through the work of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA-APHIS).

This farmers market is in Firemen’s Park on the corner of 1st Street and Business 83 in McAllen and is open until noon. The Growing Growers Farmers Market has a wide range of locally grown fruits, vegetables and herbs, as well as grassfed beef, grassfed lamb, goat’s milk cheese, and milk, as well as eggs, including quail eggs. The market also has a variety of baked goods, raw honey, jams and jellies. For information, call (956) 330-6410. For information on Citrus Greening Disease, call (956) 580-1917.

Barbara Storz is a local horticulturist. You can listen to her garden show at 7 a.m. Saturdays on 710 KURV Radio or e-mail her at bstorz@rcommunications.com.