Citrus Greening spreading, disease most prevalent in Rio Grande Valley

Citrus Greening spreading, disease most prevalent in Rio Grande Valley
NEWSCENTER 23
News
Tuesday, August 19, 2014 - 8:15am

The Texas citrus industry is currently combating the destructive disease known as citrus greening, as the disease has taken a stronghold in both commercial and residential citrus plants in the Rio Grande Valley. Hidalgo, Cameron and Harris counties are under quarantine for citrus greening. Citrus greening can have a devastating impact on the crop itself; however, it is important to know that fruit from infected trees pose no risk to human health.

In an effort to educate Rio Grande Valley residents, the Texas Citrus Industry will host a press conference on Wednesday, August 20 to discuss citrus greening and inform local residents about how they can help save citrus in the Rio Grande Valley.

Citrus greening was first detected in Texas in January 2012. A small number of trees were found to be infected with the disease. In 2014, the nature and prevalence of citrus greening disease changed, with the discovery of 300 infected trees in commercial groves and 207 infected trees in residential backyards.

“The question weighing heavily on the minds of growers and many others in South Texas is whether Texas can avoid a catastrophic situation for our citrus industry, which wasn’t the case for our eastern neighbors in Florida,” said Ray Prewett, president of Texas Citrus Mutual.

Recent detections are not only being found in more commercial groves and residential areas, but some areas have a large number of infected trees, with more than 50 trees testing positive for the disease in a single block of citrus. The area most infected by the disease is located in the mid-valley region in an area from north of Expressway 83 to FM 107 and FM 88 West to Tower Road.

“It is simply too early to know how the situation will unfold,” said Prewett. “However, we know that all Texans, from commercial growers to nursery owners to homeowners, must continue to be aggressive in their efforts to slow the spread of the disease.”

The state legislature established the Texas Citrus Pest and Disease Management Corporation (CPDMC) to help fight citrus greening in Texas. CPDMC has developed a set of best management practices for controlling the Asian citrus psyllid, the pest that infects citrus trees and causes citrus greening. Additionally, the Texas Department of Agriculture has issued regulations requiring all citrus trees in the ten county citrus zone to be produced in an enclosed, certified structure. This will help prevent the disease from entering and infecting nursery plants.

Additionally, Texas Citrus Mutual and the Texas Citrus Pest and Disease Management Corporation are working with Rio Grande Valley residents, commercial producers and sellers to aggressively combat citrus greening through the following practices:

  • Integrated pest management, including the use of pesticides and bio-control agents;
  • Reduction of citrus greening bacteria, which requires removing infected trees; and
  • Working with growers and homeowners to plant citrus nursery stock that is free of citrus greening and other diseases.

To learn more about citrus greening and its impact on Texas, visit www.citrusalert.com

When: Wednesday,
August 20, 2014
10:00 a.m.

Location: Texas AgriLife Research
2415 E Business 83, Weslaco, TX
(956) 969-5651
Building 205
(See Attached Directions)

RSVP: TexaSweet Citrus Marketing
(By phone to) 956-580-8004
(By email to) eleisha@texasweet.com

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