Fighting The Yellow Dragon: Can Drone Data Combat Citrus Greening?

How to tackle the devastating disease of Huanglongbing

Can you imagine a world without citrus? Huanglongbing (HLB), also known as Citrus Greening, has fast become one of the most destructive and devastating diseases affecting citrus orchards around the world. Since no cure is known, farmers have no choice but to eradicate infected trees and replace them with clean nursery trees. In some cases, where sections of orchards cannot be saved, farmers have had to claim compensation from local government.

Of the many citrus producing areas around the world, Florida, land of the orange, experienced the hardest beating from HLB in the last year. In just a single season, Florida’s $9 billion industry decreased annual production by 16 million boxes - a decline of 35%, and the lowest crop yield in over 75 years. This figure is the most recent in what appears to be a worrying trend. Florida alone has seen more than a 60% decline in citrus production in the last decade.

 
  Symptoms of Citrus Greening on citrus leaf

Symptoms of Citrus Greening on citrus leaf

Sometimes taking years to reveal itself, trees infected by HLB can take out an entire orchard in record time. Psyllids carrying the bacteria are now considered a major international agricultural threat. Cases of citrus greening have been identified all over the globe: from Taiwan to South Africa, many farmers face what seems to be a hopeless situation.

 

Typical management guidelines for HLB control include routinely and continuously scouting for psyllids, and the suppression of psyllids using insecticides. Generally, farmers remove trees that are confirmed to be infected. In some cases, these measures are futile, in which case farmers need to take further action as soon as possible to assess the outbreak. It’s not enough to know that there is an infestation taking place - at a 50% yield loss per tree, it’s imperative that you know the exact number of infected trees.

Can drone data provide a solution? Yes. The first critical step in successfully controlling HLB is early detection and diagnosis. Farmers in Florida can claim compensation from the Department of Agriculture, meaning that measuring the extent of the problem is a crucial step in saving a farm. Drones can not only scout for individually infected areas, but they can also provide enhanced accuracy when determining the magnitude of infection - an individual tree-per-orchard count.

Our mobile App, Aeroview Scout, can be used to plan a scouting mission to make sure time in the field is optimised and make sure that problem areas are detected and diseased trees are eradicated as soon as possible. Without taking proactive steps to fight psyllids, you could lose your entire orchard. If you don’t measure the extent of the disease, you could miss your opportunity to claim compensation.

Download Aeroview Scout for your Android or Apple device for free.

Take initiative now. Don’t let citrus greening get the better of you and your prime crops! Speak to our team at Aerobotics to begin measuring the extent of the problem and stop the spread of infection today.