Biological control helps fighting citrus greening, one of the main diseases in orange groves
Biological control is the newest bet as a tool to fight diseases in the groves. The Brazilian Citriculture Defense Fund, Fundecitrus, one of the main Brazilian research institutions, funded by citrus growers and the citrus industry, developed a laboratory to breed Tamarixia, a tiny wasp that can help stopping the propagation of citrus greening, one of the main diseases in the citrus industry.
The wasp acts as a natural enemy of the psyllid, the mosquito that carries the disease. With a production capacity of 100 thousand Tamarixia per month, the idea is to release the wasps in abandoned groves and urban areas, places where the chemical control of the disease is not done. “We estimate that there’s a 15 thousand hectares’ area of abandoned groves. The idea is to use biological control in those places. The wasps are not a solution, but they are an important tool”, explains the Fundecitrus manager, Mr. Juliano Ayres. According to him, in the tests performed in partnership with Esalq, the occurrence of psyllids was reduced by 70%, with peaks at 90%. According to technicians, a single wasp can eliminate up to 600 psyllids.