tangerine tree - Knowledgebase Question

Cantonment, Fl
Avatar for Katie614
Question by Katie614
September 21, 2010
I have a 7 year old tangerine tree. For some reason, this year, all the leaves on the tree are covered with a 'black' soot like film. What is that? Will it eventually harm the tree or crop?

Answer from NGA
September 21, 2010
The problem sounds like sooty mold and is caused indirectly by scale insects. Scales suck the plant juices and excrete a liquid called honeydew. The sugar content of this excrement is just high enough to encourage fungal growth. That's what you're seeing on the leaves of your tangerine tree. There are several control options: if the plant isn't too large, you can use a gloved hand and squish the adult scales. Or you can scrub the scales off with a soft brush, then rinse with soapy water. There are oil based insecticides that you can use to suffocate the scale insects but these might cause partial defoliation of your tree, especially if the spray is applied when the air temperature is below 40F or above 65F. Be sure to read the label, and apply exactly according to directions to avoid damage to your tangerine tree.

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