Louisiana citrus canker finds prompt educational sessions

08/01/2013 10:18:00 AM
Vicky Boyd

county agent citrus canker trainingCourtesy Louisiana State UniversityLSU AgCenter county agent Alan Vaughn and plant scientist Raj Singh look for signs of citrus canker disease during a recent agent training meeting. County agents tied to Louisiana State University's Ag Center recently received an education about citrus canker and what they should tell homeowners and commercial growers.

Since the citrus disease was discovered in dooryard trees in New Orleans in June, they have been barraged with questions, according to a news release.

“The main message is for homeowners to not move samples of leaves or branches from the suspected trees,” LSU plant scientist Raj Singh said in the release. “The disease is highly contagious and can be transferred to other trees just by handling infected trees.”

Instead, county agents should have homeowners take photographs of the suspected lesions on leaves or fruit and email it to them. They will then forward it to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

So far, the bacterial citrus disease has been confirmed in Orleans and Jefferson parishes.

A survey team from Florida is in Louisiana, but so far they've only found it in the two parishes.

The initial find was made by a USDA inspector out for a run who happened to notice an infected tree in City Park in New Orleans.

Canker was first seen in Louisiana in 1910 and quickly spread to other Gulf States. It was presumed eradicated in 1940.

Citrus canker reappeared in Florida in the mid-1990s and has not become endemic there.

The bacteria, which are harmless to humans and animals, causes scab-like lesions on fruit and leaves, eventually causing them to drop.

In severe cases, trees can be defoliated and drop all of their crop.

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