Aimed at eliminatingcitrus greeningby “blocking the ability of insects to move the disease from infected trees to healthy ones,” the USDA recently announced a $9 million grant to the Citrus Research and Development Foundation at Lake Alfred, Fla.

The U.S. citrus industry is well aware that greening disease threatens more than 1 million commercial citrus acres with an annual production value of approximately $3 billion. Estimates show yearly losses could reach $10 billion if citrus greening is left unchecked.

While Florida has a few years of experience with greening disease (also known as huanglongbing), the malady is still relatively new to Texas’ citrus industry.

After the discovery of nine orange trees with the disease, a five-mile quarantine area was quickly established last January.

What has happened since? Farm Press spoke with Ray Prewett of Texas Citrus Mutual and industry coordinator for industry response. Among Prewett’s comments:

The current citrus greening situation in Texas…

“We’ve got some positive developments and some new concerns. We’re very hopeful (citrus greening) isn’t widespread. However, there are some new indications that it is beyond where we originally thought. We’re concerned about what might unfold here in Texas in the next few months.

“It was found within two groves across the road from each other in San Juan, Texas. Since then, a lot of dooryard trees have been surveyed for the disease, as well as commercial groves. So far, the original two groves are still the only ones where we have found greening.

“A few weeks ago, we found a dooryard tree that tested positive, and last week we found another that tested positive. Those two trees are still within the five-mile quarantine zone that was set up around the first greening discovery.

“Texas Citrus Mutual has been working hard on psyllid control. We’ve tried to learn as much as we can from Florida’s experience, and have brought the psyllid population levels down some. There has been a bit of a spike of populations compared to last year — but that’s only spotty and in certain areas.”

Latency of the disease…

“One of the unfortunate things about greening disease is that a grove can be affected for several years before the symptoms show up.