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Don’t Panic, It’s Organic: Controlling and preventing HLB citrus disease

Andy Lopez, Contributing Columnist/Invisible Gardener
3:03 pm PDT June 30, 2014

Scientists are developing ways to detect diseased trees and are working to develop genetically modified varieties of citrus trees. 

They are also working on better understanding the disease as well as ways to control and remove pests. 

This is all very good, but I believe they are missing the most important part and that is too better understand why any bug attacks any tree and why it may not. 

In the case of the citrus, if bugs don’t attack the tree for whatever reason, the tree will not get a disease. There is a big difference between an organic grower and a conventional grower, one of which is that the organic grower keys into the health of the soil, including it micro-biological citizens. 

One of my radio shows is called “It’s Alive!” and is based upon the fact that the bacteria eat first and the bacteria’s waste is what the plants eat. Bacteria take minerals and convert them into compounds that are assimilated by the plants root hairs. The bacteria actually live on the root hairs of the plant. 

Without these two things, there is no healthy plant: minerals and bacteria. All insects have evolved to deal with minerals and bacteria. 

When one or the other is missing, then the plant becomes a better food source for the pests and or for diseases since many pests spread diseases (disease can also be spread by humans, winds, weather, birds, other animals, cats, dogs, etc). 

One developed the ability to actually see the difference when plants are mineral deficient and the plants will also have low carbohydrate levels, excellent food source for insects is one that has no carbohydrates.

More on Brix and its relationship with minerals, pests and diseases

A famous scientist who was also a good cook, developed the refractometer and one of the things that it eventually came to be used for was wine production and beer protection as well as various scientific uses. Ernst Abbe (1840–1905) was his name. Using a refractometer, one can easily determine the Brix level of your fruit or juice. You can also measure your vegetables such as lettuce etc since it will also read the Brix levels in the plant.

Throughout my past 58 years in business as well as being a speaker at places ranging from schools to the Cancer Prevention Society and many radio shows, I have managed to learn a few things. 

One day when I was giving a talk to a group of scientists, I started talking about minerals and Brix and what I thought could be the relationship between high Brix and less pests. One scientist named Phil Callahan and I started talking about Brix levels, and he said that the higher the Brix level was, the higher the carbohydrate levels would be. 

At that time I did not put it together that insects cannot digest carbohydrates until several years later during another talk, a very nice lady was in the audience and she commented that most if not all insects cannot digest carbohydrates.

Do you have any questions for the Invisible Gardener? Email andy@invisiblegardener.com.