Koppert is strengthening biological control in citrus fruits

Anagyrus vladimiri

The company is finalising new strategies with insects and insect pathogenic fungi against pests such as Mealybugs

Beneficial microorganisms are going to play an important role in Koppert Spain’s strategies to offer effective biological solutions against the new pests that are affecting citrus fruit production. For example, insect pathogenic fungi could be combined with selective releasing of beneficial insects to create new biological control protocols that can fight pests such as mealybugs (Delotococcusaberiae), which have already caused damage to over 30,000 hectares of production in eastern Spain.

Currently, Koppert Spain already has a programme for the biological control of mealybugs in a trial phase that combines the use of insect pathogenic fungi with the releasing of two of this pest’s natural enemies: Cryptolaemusmontrouzieri and the new natural enemy, Anagyrusaberiae. The first results, obtained in laboratory under controlled conditions, confirm the efficiency of this new strategy. “We hope that the results in the fields will be just as satisfactory, and in a few months we will be able to start marketing this new protocol, as the citrus fruit producers have been waiting for authorised tools that can bring a halt to mealybugs for some time now,” according to Juan Miguel Rodríguez, Citrus Manager at Koppert Spain.

The combination of auxiliary fauna with insect pathogenic fungi is also profiled as the most effective biological solution for controlling Tryozaeritreae, the feared HLB vector or “greening” of citrus fruit. “We are evaluating the use of beneficial microorganisms to strengthen the traditional biological control strategies and to be able to offer a tool that can control this vector, which is vitally important to prevent the propagation of the bacteria that causes HLB, if this bacteria were to be detected in our country in the future,” explains Javier Calvo, from the R&D department of Koppert Spain.

At the same time, biological control based on releasing beneficial insects and mites confirms excellent results against pests such as red spider mites, red bird mites, white louse scale or the most recent arrival, currently to be found in a very localised area in the provinces of Murcia and Alicante, Pulvinariapolygonata (cottony cushion scale).

Biological control is the cheapest

A special mention should be given to the success reached by Koppert Spain in the biological control of red spider mite in citrus fruits, by way of releases of the predator mite Neoseiuluscalifornicus with the exclusive sachet format SpicalUlti-Mite®. Added to its high efficiency is its excellent profitability, as biological control for red spider mite with SpicalUlti-Mite® is 20% cheaper than control based on pesticides.

“The biological control of red spider mite with our sachet format saves money, reduces the number of applications and avoids problems generated by the residues from plant protection products that make it difficult to market the harvest,” Juan Miguel Rodríguez explains. This year, Koppert Spain expects to manage over 30,000 hectares of citrus fruits with its biological control strategies.

“We have joined up with Nature to find growth methods that are safe and healthy. Our holistic approach is what makes us stand out from the rest: it improves plant health, both on the surface and in the subsoil. All our solutions support one goal: 100% sustainable farming,” sources from the company comment.

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