Huanglongbing (commonly referred to as HLB or citrus greening disease) is unrelenting in its destruction of citrus trees. A tiny insect, called the Asian citrus psyllid and no larger than a grain of rice, can carry the bacteria and infect the citrus. The infection causes a sooty mold to form on tree leaves as well as a twisting damage to the leaf. The fruit from infected trees may be misshapen and lose their symmetrical appearance. Although safe to eat, its flavor may be bitter due to the infection.

There is no known cure, and growers must remove infected trees. The Florida Department of Citrus is supporting research in cures, and some exciting news has come from Jude Grosser of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

According to Grosser’s experiment, overdoses of the micronutrient manganese and boron on sweet orange trees that have been infected with HLB showed steady improvement, and after two years of exposure, the majority of the trees showed no active HLB infection whatsoever. Grosser states, “The growers that are experimenting with constant supplies of the micronutrients are getting excellent results. Manganese is certainly one of the key micronutrients for dealing with the disease.” Exciting news indeed!

Leaves infected with HLB

Source: USDA

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