Our farm began its organic certification process in 1994, through our father’s work.
The full adaptation to organic farming has not been concluded yet. In many cases, on our farm there are implantations that have been constructed many years ago (some of them are one hundred years old), within a monoculture viewpoint. Even if these implantations are not contaminated on a chemical level, they are not stable in their organic cycle, and require different interventions (organic ones of course) to contain parasites and infesting agents, and to integrate the resources in the soil.
The main parasite threats we face in our citrus farming are:
Mostly the “strong red” (Aonidiella auranti) shielded one, which develops on young branches and spreads on to the fruit. Also the cottony, carved cochineal, the citrus floury or cottony one, non protected by a shield, which develops on the fruits, more precisely on the parts that are in contact with each other when the citruses are bunched.
The citruses that are hit the hardest are the grapefruit, the Naveline oranges, and the Moro oranges.
In the pre blooming and fruit setting phase, these parasites cut off the peduncle of the orange blossom.
Organic remedy: leaf supply with pyrethroids (which has limited and short efficacy), or, as an alternative, neem oil supply. We have noted that the cohabitation with chickens indirectly protects the citrus groves from parasite plagues that produce slither, and the connection between these two factors is ants.
The fruit fly
It predominantly hits summer fruits, and so in our case, the most precocious citrus varieties.
Organic remedy: “spinosad” sprays on certain plants of a given plot (roughly 25-30%).
The dark rot
It is a fungal disease caused by Phytophthora citrophthora, a fungus that hits the plant and manifests on the trunk, foliage and fruits. The problem presents itself mostly in conjunction with heavy rainy seasons, especially if there is water stagnation.
Organic remedy: if the maintenance of the water stagnation is not sufficient, it becomes necessary to work with copper, which is allowed in organic farming, even though it is not a strictly organic product.
The citrus serpentine leafminer (Phyllocnistis citrella)
It is a small worm that carves out tunnels inside the leafs of young plants, compromising their regular development.
Organic remedy: We combat it only on new plantations or on grafted plots (for the first 3-5 years), where it is important to favor the development of the vegetation. Neem oil supplies are done every 8-10 days, from July to September.
Underneath the olive groves, black pigs eat all of the olives that fall to the ground, which create the conditions for the proliferation of the olive fly. Other than satisfying their hunger, the pigs’ clean up work has the direct effect of containing the spreading of the parasite.