Texas citrus officials remain hopeful, despite greening find

01/18/2012 06:37:00 PM
Vicky Boyd

Texas citrus industry officials say they hope their years of planning have helped limit the spread of citrus greening from an area near McAllen.

"We knew citrus greening was going to come day," says Juan Anciso, a Texas AgriLife Extension specialist in Weslaco. "But the past few years, we've had a voluntary area-wide spray program to spray for the psyllid. So surveillance and preventive measures have been occurring for several years."

Growers representing more than 80 percent of the citrus acreage in the Lower Rio Grande Valley are participating, Anciso says.

In addition, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Texas Department of Agriculture conducted extensive surveys and tested 35,000 insects and 20,000 leaf samples before one positive sample was found.

The disease, which is harmless to humans but can stunt and even kill citrus trees and cause off-flavored fruit, was confirmed in a commercial orange grove south of San Juan, near McAllen, earlier this month.

An interim quarantine has been esteablished within a 5-mile radius of the positive find.

The emergency action bars people within the zone from moving citrus plant material within the zone or in and out of the zone.

The two commercial growers within that area have agreed to temporarily stop harvest.

Ansico says their main target is educating homeowners about not moving citrus plant material in or out of the state or the quarantine area.

Part of that education also will be how to safely spray their citrus trees to reduce psyllid populations outside of groves.

A list of products registered for use by homeowners is available at http//:www.texascitrusgreening.org.

The Texas Rio Grande Valley has about 28,000 acres of citrus, and harvest is about 40 percent complete.



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