By Chris Crawford
Although citrus greening has reared its ugly head as the next crisis disease to hit Florida, growers and researchers say attention still must remain on the fight against citrus canker.
Once the hurricanes of 2004 and 2005 spread canker across the state, eradication no longer was an option. In January 2006, as the government officially put to sleep the Citrus Canker Eradication Program, the focus turned to disease management.
The Citrus Health Response Plan, developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Riverdale, Md., and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Tallahassee, has become the go-to resource for best management practices for registration, inspection and certification of citrus. The plan directs growers to contact The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences’ Research and Education Centers, or County Cooperative Extension Service offices for canker management strategies. Information also can be found online at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/CG040.
“We want growers to look at the best management practices,” says Tyrone Kemp, public affairs specialist for APHIS. “We encourage them to practice decontamination and grove surveys. The USDA encourages this so that groves can have the largest market for their produce, including Europe, Japan, Korea, etc.”
BMPs for canker control start with planting windbreaks, protecting fruit and leaves with copper sprays and controlling leafminer, according to the “2007 Florida Citrus Pest Management Guide: Citrus Canker.”
The latest canker management developments include:
- Research being conducted on transgenic plants that exhibit canker resistance;
- Windbreak research continuing to evolve as test trees grow and are evaluated in the field and on-site at commercial operations;
- Work with the antibiotic streptomycin being evaluated as an alternative method to copper spraying for canker control;
- And expansion of leafminer control resulting from increased use of Admire to kill multiple pests.
Starting Aug. 1, 2006, after the burden of the eradication program had lifted, growers, packers and shippers had to deal with the Federal Citrus Canker Quarantine of all fresh citrus shipments leaving Florida. Shipments are banned to all U.S. citrus-producing areas such as American Samoa, Arizona, California, Guam, Hawaii, Louisiana, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, Texas or the U.S. Virgin Islands.