Efforts to control the dreaded citrus greening disease at Trade Winds farms in Bog Walk, St Catherine, are starting to bear fruit.
Through proper management of the disease and implementation of tactics suggested by the Ministry of Agriculture, the fight against the disease has led to a boost in production levels and growth at the farm, which provides the raw material for the Tru-Juice, Freshhh, and Tru-Tea lines of juices.
Already this year, Trade Winds Citrus Limited (TWCL) is seeing a 40 per cent increase in production.
"Our forecast for this year is 280 boxes, and we are well on our way to meeting that target. If it gets to 450, I'm smiling," said Peter McConnell, managing director of TWCL during a recent tour of the farm by Agriculture Minister Roger Clarke and other officials of the ministry.
According to McConnell, if production continues at this rate, the company could match output in Florida at about 600 boxes.
"Because citrus greening starves the plants, we had to get more food to them. Now, they are really doing well," added McConnell.
Citrus greening, whose scientific name is Huanglongbing, is one the most serious diseases of citrus in the world.
It is caused by a bacterium that affects the phloem of the plant making it difficult for the plant to consume.
Essentially, the bacterium starves the plant. Though it cannot be cured completely, there is a chemical and biological treatment that can arrest it.
First identified in 2009, citrus greening is now found throughout the island. Many citrus farmers simply abandoned their farms.
In three months, 10,000 plants had to be pulled from production at Trade Winds, and this resulted in an immediate search for a workable solution.
The agriculture ministry subsequently recommended that orchards be inspected regularly for the Asian Citrus Psyllid, the carrier of the citrus greening disease, and symptoms of citrus greening.
Safe and effective pest control, field sanitation, and a nutritional programme all work together to make better surroundings for the plants to grow healthily.