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Making Citrus Great Again

When the Tree Defender INDIVIDUAL PROTECTIVE COVER (IPC) was first developed by Scott Thompson and Tommy Thayer, Jr., they were thinking of it as an alternative to the cure for Huanglongbing (HLB or citrus greening). “We thought we were pushing the hold button for a few years to help sustain the industry while a permanent cure was being developed,” says Scott, “but a cure hasn’t come.” With the continued success of Tree Defender, our products are now being utilized globally. The original principle was to protect the young trees for the first two years while in a vegetative state. Then when it’s ready to begin its productive state, the IPC is removed, the tree is HLB free, and it takes off with a healthy start in the field.
Now, they’re seeing the positive impacts on young citrus trees and how economical it can be for growers. Not only does the IPC provide effective HLB prevention, but increased growth as well. Tree Defender has expanded its IPC sizes up to 12’ for larger trees and has added a ring sewn into the IPC to improve function and stability. Larger sized IPCs are expected to help growers control the bloom timing, reduce pesticide use, and produce a more marketable fruit. Th e Tree Defender team lives by their high-quality standards, so they make their own top-quality mesh to be sure they are delivering the most consistent and quality products possible. Be mindful of substandard products; Tree Defender IPCs are the go-to for your wallet and peace of mind.
So far, all growers using the Tree Defender IPCs on their trees are HLB free. “Every year we scout and look, and we just can’t fi nd any signs of HLB,” states Scott. Dr. Fernando Alferez at the Southwest Florida Research and Education Center is wrapping up his third year of trials with Tree Defender and all his trees are 100% HLB free. Now that the IPC has been in use for several years, it has become apparent that covered trees can more effectively combat HLB than uncovered citrus. Unfortunately, this rampant disease is easily transmitted by the psyllid vector and has no available cure, so the trees are going to get infected eventually. But trees protected with IPCs have a huge head start. “You begin with a healthy tree that has a ramped up defense system ready to begin it’s productive life,” mentions Scott. “Th is dramatically increases the economic viability of that tree.
They just don’t succumb to HLB as quickly as one that was unprotected, infected, and with an already compromised root system.” Dr. Alferez has documented his research showing that the trees using IPCs have elevated levels of photosynthates (like chlorophyll) and plant hormones. Hormones like salicylic acid and ethylene are used in the plants’ defense systems to respond against pathogens like HLB, pests, and abiotic stresses like the wounding caused by psyllids feeding. When you remove that IPC, you have a strengthened defense system in that tree, which can better withstand the pressures of HLB. The bottom line is that trees are HLB free when they come out of the Tree Defender IPC and they withstand the negative impacts of the pathogen longer than uncovered trees. Th e fruit on trees after the IPC is removed is showing better color score, bigger size, and a higher brix degree, than unprotected trees in recent trials.
“We did some testing this past season with young Valencia’s,” discusses Scott. “We used control trees, trees under IPC for only one year before being removed, and underneath the IPC for three years before removing.” Th e trees protected for three years towered over the others and the fruit had higher positive attributes with longer protection intervals using IPCs. Th e 3-year-old tree, compared to the uncovered tree, was almost one degree higher on the Brix scale which results in higher pound solids, giving another monetary return from a non-infected, IPC tree. As the third year of their trial ends, Dr. Alferez and the Tree Defender team members hope to study fruiting inside the IPCs in the next phase. They will be documenting what the IPC usage does to the tree, what it does to the fruit, and other valuable data to help citrus growers improve their products in an economical way.
We have 2 products that are approved for the CRAFT program right now,” says Scott. “Of course, the Tree Defender IPC and we’ve also introduced our Bug Blinder, which utilizes reflective ground cover technology.” Th e Citrus Research and Field Trial (CRAFT) is a broad scale research project to help commercial citrus producers deal with and fight against HLB through resets, rootstock/scion, plant and soil nutrition, pest management, and biostimulants. “As far as I know, we have the only product available in the world that applies the reflective ground cover technology to a single tree use or reset situation,” continues Scott. “From what we’ve seen in trials so far, the Bug Blinder is extremely practical, very economical, and it works great in a reset situation. It just gives the grower another option to the IPC. Th is product also differs in a huge way from the reflective ground cover products currently in use today as it can be used in conjunction with conventional irrigation, fertilizer, and soil drench applications.”
Phase 2 of the CRAFT program is underway and will be used to collect important data focusing on fruiting in some of the larger IPCs. Furthermore, it has been noted during trials that even seedy citrus varieties produce seedless fruit when grown inside IPCs. To conduct preliminary trials, Dr. Alferez took a mature tree and covered limbs in smaller IPCs, then measured the fruit set in there growing without any pollination. Results showed about 70% fruit set inside the IPCs, compared to unprotected bloom. Dr. Alferez has also communicated he feels this gap can likely be somewhat closed using available foliar applied plant hormones. So, the growing of seedless fruit is another avenue Dr. Alferez will be exploring in future trials.
“Our initial estimates growing the tree to maturity in the larger 10’ & 12’ covers will be about 25% of the cost of C.U.P.S. (Citrus Under Protective Screen) structure, and an economical alternative for not only fresh fruit but the juice fruit grower as well” says Scott.
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Keep your eye out for new products being introduced. The Tree Defender team has been improving upon a great new item that can help reduce your irrigation and liquid fertilizer usage by up to 80%! This new technology is also expected to be a very effective tool in helping to reduce the amount of excessive nutrient and pesticide runoff going into our waterways. For details about product orders, availability, and cost, call (863) 439-2877 or visit thetreedefender.com for more information. This content is a paid advertorial by Tree Defender, and does not necessarily reflect the values and opinions of CFAN or its advertisers.
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Tree Defender – Solution for Citrus Greening

New Study Shows Long-Term Solution to Greening Unlikely Anytime Soon

Citrus Greening (also known as Huanglongbing or HLB) has been terrorizing the Florida citrus industry for well over a decade. First reported in 2005, the disease has caused billions of dollars in lost crops and has led to more than 8,000 lost jobs. The 2017 citrus crop saw an almost 70% drop-off compared to 20 years ago and a 14% drop-off from 2016 alone.

Unfortunately for the Florida citrus industry, in a new report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, a single breakthrough discovery for managing citrus greening in the future is unlikely.

“There isn’t going to be a silver-bullet for greening anytime soon however we must continue a vigorous planting program and keep those trees greening free until bearing age for the industry to remain viable. The extended economic viability of the tree is where the real value comes into play. The long-term solution is going to come from multiple approaches and a combination of tactics,” says Scotty Thompson, co-founder of Tree Defender. “We know that pesticides aren’t working and methods such as C.U.P.S. can be effective but is much more expensive and not practical for all growers. There needs to be a way to protect trees until a cure or long-term solution is discovered.”

The report echoed the same message, calling for growers in the state to find short-term solutions to keep the industry alive.

That is where Tree Defender comes in.

The Tree Defender is a protective, breathable screen that is placed on young citrus trees for their first two years as they are in a vegetative and growing state. After those two years, the bag is removed, and the trees are HLB and pesticide free, and ready to start producing fruit and crops immediately. If the grower wishes to continue protecting the tree into the mature years, then they simply purchase a larger Tree Defender.

The committee that wrote the report called for an approach that prioritizes research as well as assists in distributing resources that will further research to help effectively manage and stop the disease. The Citrus Research and Development Foundation (CRDF), a $124 million state citrus-industry initiative, has invested nearly 90% of its funds in HLB research and asked the committee to review its research portfolio and determine if its efforts have followed recommendations outlined in the original report that called for the organization’s creation.

The committee did find the CRDF adhered to several of the recommendations outlined from the initial report, and, along with several other organizations, has significantly advanced our knowledge of the disease. However, HLB remains a serious threat to the state’s citrus industry, having now progressed from an acute to a chronic disease throughout the state.

The report notes that there are still significant obstacles in the way of discovering a breakthrough cure for greening. The inability to culture bacteria in the laboratory, the lack of advanced diagnostics to help with early disease detection, and no standardized approach to compare results across various studies are all issues preventing a breakthrough for the disease.

Long-term HLB solutions would likely utilize new technology, such as gene modification and gene editing, focusing on targets that mediate molecular interactions among plant, bacteria, and the vector, the committee said.

While long-term solutions aren’t yet on the horizon, the Tree Defender provides an immediate solution to citrus greening by preventing psyllids from infecting citrus trees as they are maturing. Having been in the field now for over three years, Tree Defender can still confidently say that no psyllid has yet to be found on any tree being covered by their screens.

Keeping trees greening-free and delaying the infection risk as they mature allows them to stay healthy and immediately start producing once they reach their production stage. This means cutting costs for pesticides as well as getting a greater return on investment as there will be more healthy trees producing more citrus.

“One critical need we fill is that Tree Defender is just as economical for a small grower to utilize as it would be for one of the largest growers in the state,” says Thompson.

Not only can Tree Defender provide a quick solution for greening, it’s versatility makes it a perfect and easy solution for other common problems as well. It protects trees from psyllids, prevents damage from deer, provides UV protection to the leaves, helps to prevent canker, and the bags are durable and can be used for multiple years on multiple trees.

The Tree Defender, with its patent-pending design, is available in a 4-foot, 5-foot, 7-foot all the way up to a 12-foot bag. These larger bags are designed for mature trees. They have four sides with two opposing zippered sides which allows for harvesting activities without removing the Tree Defender. Each screen has a life expectancy of up to eight years and is also ideal for protecting various other small trees and plants such as tomatoes or peppers.

The Tree Defender is currently selling directly to growers and individual bags will be available for resale within the next few months for casual and backyard growers as well. For details about product orders, availability, and cost, call (863) 439-2877 or visit thetreedefender.com for more information.
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Got Psyllids or Harmful Pests Destroying Your Plants?

Protect Your Future

Our mission is to protect your trees and plants from the effects of insects, frost, wind, hail and many other harmful elements during the first part of their lives. Are your resets getting lost or forgotten? Put them to bed for up to 2 years psyllid-free with The Tree Defender! Our Tree Defenders can repel most insects including psyllids, mealy bugs, white flies, caterpillars, bud worms, leaf miners, aphids, grasshoppers, diaprepes and more.

” The longer a newly planted tree can remain HLB-free, the better the chances are that the tree will make it to bearing age and begin to provide income for the grower. “ – University of Florida Extension

” I have had The Tree Defenders on some of my resets for about a year now. They definitely are not slowing the tree down. They are perfect for scattered resets. “ – Jamie Shinn, Grower

These are just a few of the advantages that using The Tree Defender can have for your trees.
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PR Newswire: Tree Defender

Tree Defender Proves to be a Highly Effective and Profitable Weapon Against Citrus Greening

The Tree Defender was originally created by growers for growers to provide an immediate solution to citrus greening by preventing psyllids from infecting trees. Having been in the field now for five years, Tree Defender can still confidently say that no psyllid has yet to be found on any tree being covered by their protective, breathable screen.

The goal is to use Tree Defender to protect young trees from psyllids and greening during their first two years as they are in a vegetative and growing state. After those two years, the protective cover is removed, and the trees are healthy, pesticide-free, and ready to start producing fruit and crops immediately. If the grower wishes to continue protecting the tree into the mature years, then they simply purchase a larger Tree Defender.

Dr. James Graham, an emeritus professor of Soil Microbiology at the University of Florida Citrus Research and Education Center, has done extensive analysis of the economic benefit that The Tree Defender produces for prevention of citrus greening in the early stage of tree development.

Graham used an economic model to calculate the yield and profit advantage for protecting the citrus tree from psyllid infection for the first two growing seasons.

“The model can be run with adjustments of various parameters such as variety, fruit quality, fruit value, cost of the Tree Defender, and years of protection of the tree from Tree Defender to study different outcomes,” Graham said. “The model calculates that Valencia trees planted at 250 per acre protected with The Tree Defender for the first two seasons returns a profit of over $3,000 per acre and an Internal Rate of Return (IRR) of 60.7%.”

“The Tree Defender is a highly profitable investment for Florida citrus growers that plant trees as resets or in solid blocks and I wouldn’t consider planting a tree without the protection that The Tree Defender affords,” Graham said.

The issue of controlling citrus greening and the spread of psyllids is still a very real and relevant problem. In February of 2018, a judge ordered California agricultural officials to stop spraying pesticides on public and private property to control insects. This presents a new hurdle in the challenge of controlling crop-damaging pests that have severely impacted the citrus industry in Brazil and Florida.

Tree Defender is not only the most effective and organic solution to this problem, it is the most affordable and economically valuable solution. By covering each tree, you are creating individual micro-environments that keep pests and diseases out. In the unlikely event a tree does become infected in a protective cover, then the disease will not spread outside that individual cover and possibly harm the surrounding trees.

The Tree Defender, with its patent-pending design, is available in a 5-foot, 6-foot, 8-foot and 10-foot all the way up to a 12-foot cover. These larger covers are designed for mature trees. They have four sides with two opposing zippered sides which allows for harvesting activities without removing the Tree Defender. Each screen has a life expectancy of up to eight years and is also ideal for protecting various other small trees and plants such as tomatoes or peppers.

The Tree Defender is available to commercial growers, as well as, casual and backyard growers at a few select nurseries and retailers set up as distributor partnerships. *see “where to buy” section. For details about product orders, availability, and cost, call (863) 439-2877 or visit thetreedefender.com for more information.