Uruguay to implement an unprecedented citrus biological control model for the region

The country is testing mechanisms to prevent the advance of a pest that is harmful to the citrus market.
Publication date: 14/07/2022

With the appearance of Huanglongbing (HLB) in the region, a disease caused by bacteria and considered the most destructive citrus pest in the world, Uruguay is focusing on awareness and prevention to protect its citrus industry. The country aims to steadily develop strategies for the production and certification of virus-free plants and to control the insect through monitoring, biological control and the use of products with low environmental impact. This ensures the supply of sanitized plants throughout the country and the possibility of tracing the origin of the plants in the event that an outbreak of the disease is detected thanks to the Citrus Propagation Material Sanitation Program and the Citrus Propagation Material Production and Certification Program.

Currently, 100% of new plantings (more than three million plants) have been produced from certified material.

In Uruguay Tamarixia Radiata, one of the most important biological controllers, is found at low densities. After a period of research and adjustments, in 2018 a project was developed between the National Institute of Agricultural Research (INIA), the Ministry of Livestock Agriculture and Fisheries and the private sector grouped in UPEFRUY with the objective of developing an innovative technology for citriculture in Uruguay, which consists of the production and release of the parasitoid, sterile males, as a basis for sustainable management of the pest.

This project seeks to implement an unprecedented model of biological control for the region, where a country without the presence of the disease seeks to remain competitive in international markets by betting on preventive control. Thus, Uruguayan citriculture will benefit from having an environmentally friendly alternative management system for the D citri insect, avoiding the effects associated with a strategy based exclusively on the use of chemical pesticides.