Florida citrus industry has been influenced by citrus greening disease or huanglongbing (HLB) severely. Citrus greening is a bacterial disease that is transmitted by a tiny insect called Asian citrus psyllid (ACP). The main goal of the protective screen is to completely exclude the ACP and therefore citrus greening. The citrus grower will see the benefits of using a protective screen immediately. Because of eliminating HLB, trees will grow rapidly and normally, show less fruit drop, and need regular fertilizer and irrigation rates. Despite having many advantages, CUPS has some downsides like high establishment costs and maintenance. Currently, CUPS is a new practice in fighting HLB, and it needs time to show promising results for larger-scale production.
As it was stated before, due to the high cost of screen house construction (up to $1 per square foot), many growers still prefer using the traditional citrus production methods. Despite using high-quality materials in CUPS such as high-density polyethylene screen and using a pole in concrete, it still is vulnerable to high-speed winds and hurricanes. For example, the research CUPS project of the Indian River Research and Education Center (IRREC) in Fort Pierce was damaged heavily by a hurricane two times.
The main question is does a protective screen protect the trees 100% from insects and disease? The answer is no. For example, mites and thrips may enter through the permeable screen. Also, greasy spots and some other fungal diseases may also be observed on trees inside the screen.
On the other hand, higher quality of fresh fruit produced in CUPS may compensate for the cost of construction and maintenance. Considering all these pros and cons, can we recommend it to the new growers. Not yet, and the reason is we need more research to evaluate the CUPS and it might take time!