[NAFEX] First U.S. Detection of Citrus Tree Disease in Florida

athagan at atlantic.net athagan at atlantic.net
Tue Sep 6 14:25:37 EDT 2005

For those of us who keep citrus this is something to keep an eye on. 
I was thinking about this yesterday afternoon as I was weeding my
orchard citrus.



First U.S. Detection of Citrus Tree Disease in Florida

By Adrian Sainz Associated Press Writer
Published: Sep 2, 2005

MIAMI (AP) - A plant illness that could endanger Florida's $9 billion
citrus industry has been found for the first time in the United
States, agriculture officials said Friday.

The bacterial disease known as citrus greening was found in samples
collected from two trees in South Florida, officials said.

Citrus greening is not a threat to humans but it has harmed trees in
Asia, the Arabian Peninsula and Africa. Its first U.S. detection was
confirmed by the U.S. Agriculture Department after state scientists
sent the samples there.

The disease, primarily transmitted by insect, affects the vascular
system of plants and causes infected trees to die in a few years.

"It would definitely be devastating to the citrus industry" if allowed
to spread unchecked or if it's found to be widespread already, said
Denise Feiber, spokeswoman for the Florida agriculture department.

The Asian version of citrus greening was found on two samples of
pummelo tree leaf and fruit samples 14 miles apart in the city of
Homestead, a farming center in Miami-Dade County. Scientists and
agriculture officials were investigating whether the illness had
spread beyond that area, officials said.

The disease probably arrived in Florida from infected Asian plant
material that came into contact with the insects that spread it,
known as citrus psyllids, Feiber said.

Feiber said agriculture officials had been testing for citrus greening
since the insects that carry it were found in Delray Beach in 1998.

Because there is no cure, trees found to have been infected will be
destroyed as federal and state scientists determine how far citrus
greening has spread. But the disease is not airborne, so finding and
killing carrier insects is critical, Feiber said.

The citrus greening threat is another headache for Florida agriculture
officials and citrus growers, who have dealt with citrus canker for
about a decade. The state has destroyed about 2.5 million trees in
commercial groves and 650,000 trees in residential areas in an
attempt to get rid of it.

AP-ES-09-02-05 2114EDT

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