The University of Florida may have found a new tool to help avocado growers protect their orchards for less. Researchers with the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, in a study published Feb. 18, found a repellent, made from methyl salicylate, that deters beetles on avocado trees.
The chemical will prevent redbay ambrosia beetles from injecting deadly laurel wilt fungus into the trees, which grow mainly in southern Miami-Dade County, Florida.
“We have a 90-percent reduction of the attacks from beetles on our logs,” said Xavier Martini, a UF professor of entomology at the institute’s North Florida Research and Education Center in Quincy, Florida.
Martini also said that growers currently pay around $500 to treat a tree with verbone. When the new repellent is mixed with verbenone, however, it should be cheaper.
“It’s costing between $100 and $125 a tree to dispose of it, and it’s affecting the production,” Philcox said. “When you replant a tree it takes seven years before it’s in full production, so that’s money out on that end too.”