Concerns about greening growing but manageable

11/09/2012 11:48:00 AM
Melissa Shipman

Bishop mentioned a lot of things are happening behind the scenes, and that a lot of resources are being spent to try to fight the spread of the disease.

“It’s not something we are taking lightly here,” he said.

Lawrence Hawkins, spokesman for the USDA, said that growers could begin to notice the effects of HLB even without a widespread outbreak because agriculture quarantines restrict the movement of plants and citrus.

“Growers may be impacted by regulations related to the disease even before there is a noticeable change in the tree productivity in areas where the disease has been only recently confirmed,” Hawkins said in an e-mail.

Other long-term effects for Texas could include quality issues with the fruit, he said.

“Citrus greening reduces the quantity and quality of citrus fruits, eventually rendering infected trees useless,” Lawrence said in an e-mail.

“In areas of the world affected by citrus greening the average productive lifespan of citrus trees has dropped from 50 or more years to 15 or less,” he said.

According to Lawrence, infected trees usually die within five years, but an infected tree produces fruit that is unsuitable for market anyway, all of which could affect the price and availability of fruit for consumers.

Some areas of the country are in more serious stages of the disease, and Texas growers remain positive this season will be a successful one. Every possible effort is being taken to prevent any of those long term effects from impacting their industry, Prewitt said.

“We’re in a much better place than Florida where the disease spread widely before they realized it was there,” Prewitt said.

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