What is in this article?:
• 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.
“That gives me optimism that we’ll give it our best shot and slow it down. We know it’s unlikely we’ll ever get rid of the disease. But, we need to slow it down until the scientists come up with a practical answer to how to combat it.
“Unfortunately, there just isn’t too much in the scientific community right now that is terribly encouraging. There is a lot of effort going into a solution, but we’re still a long way from finding one.
“That solution may come in the form of a genetically-modified tree with resistance to greening. We support that — but it won’t happen for a while. And even if a GM tree was on our doorstep tomorrow, it wouldn’t help with the trees already producing. The technology would mean starting new groves and that would be an economic issue.”
More on current efforts to fight the disease…
“We’re doing a good job on psyllid control. We’re also doing what’s needed to protect nurseries, which is one of the quickest ways to have long-distance spread of the disease. We’re working on removing trees found to have innoculum.
“This disease is much worse on young trees than mature trees. Florida has spent a lot of money putting systemic pesticides on young trees — but that’s a tough battle. Younger trees are more susceptible, they go down quicker.
“We haven’t had a major freeze in Texas since 1989. Most of our trees are a pretty good size, so we’re a bit ahead on that count.”
The value of the Texas citrus industry…
“We’re small compared to Florida and California’s citrus industries. But we’re still talking about a $160 million to $200 million impact on the state.”
The $9 million recently allocated by the USDA for greening studies…
“Those funds will be managed by the foundation in Florida. My understanding is the first efforts will be to ‘build a better psyllid’ that won’t transmit the disease.