There’s probably not a person in the Florida citrus industry that hasn’t at least
heard of Maury Boyd, but just in case, here’s a bit of background: When greening
was first found in Maury’s grove in Felda in 2005, he made a conscious decision not
to remove infected trees. Bear in mind, this was not a minor decision — the grove
is nearly 400 acres. Instead, Maury chose to take steps to maintain the health and
productivity of his trees in spite of their greening infection and developed what
has become known as the “Maury Boyd cocktail.” To date, he has not removed a single
tree because of greening.
As a testament to the success of his program, Maury points to a block of young Valencia
trees in his grove. The block was heavily infected early on in the epidemic. Many
of the world’s greening experts visited the block during those early days of 2005
and 2006 and signed its death certificate, saying it would be dead within a year
or two. Today, the block is still alive, growing and bearing a good crop. In Maury’s
words, “It looks better than it has ever looked.” This year, Maury says the fruit
are good and no drop is occurring. He credits part of the success in this young block
to the addition of boron and TurfPro (an organic soil amendment) to the program last
In addition to good nutrition, Maury is a staunch proponent of psyllid control. “It
has to be 100 percent. I know that’s not achievable, but that’s the benchmark I use,”
he says. Trying to achieve that goal with only the use of pesticides causes Maury
concern about residues. That is why he has taken up the new challenge of promoting
the development of a psyllid-repellent system based on dimethyl disulfide (DMDS),
the repellent discovered through research on guava.
Maury has been consulting with engineers and working almost single-handedly to find
funding for the development of a repellent-delivery system. The system, as he envisions
it, would be a simple network of small diameter tubing with a few nozzles per acre
throughout the grove — not unlike an irrigation system — that would release DMDS
or other repellents automatically 24/7, 365 days a year. A computer control system
would regulate flow based on wind and could completely shut down the system if necessary.
Such a system would be particularly beneficial for solid set blocks of new trees.
Windbreaks would enhance the system’s efficacy.
Maury knows that he is criticized by some for leaving infected trees in the ground,
potentially making it nearly impossible to bring new trees into production without
them becoming infected. However, some would be surprised to learn that Maury doesn’t
disagree with his critics. In fact, he’s not sure that a new grove can be planted
and kept greening-free for any considerable amount of time whether trees are removed
or not, given our current psyllid control methods. “Look at the Ben Hill Griffin
block in Frostproof [at the corner of U.S. 27 and Hwy. 17]. Steve Farr’s an excellent
production manager, you can’t get much better, and still it has 1 or 2 percent infection
That’s precisely why Maury is pushing for the development of a repellent system.
Such a system, he believes, coupled with judicious, well-timed pesticide applications,
is the only way to control psyllids well enough to keep new, solid blocks of trees
greening-free, and preserve the integrity of the juice and fruit byproducts. If
the system were very effective, it may even allow for the restoration of much of
the biological control we have lost over the past few years.
Maury’s final thought on how to win the greening battle sums things up pretty well:
“We’re gonna have to think outside the box.”