In looking back, we see some interesting things happen. Some we were prepared for and some others just surprised us. It makes me excited to think what might be ahead this year. How would diseases and the environment impact plant health and plant disease issues?
Less than 20 days into the new year, something that we had been expecting but hoping that it would never show up in Texas SHOWED UP. Citrus greening, a disease caused by Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus, was found and confirmed in Hidalgo county (in the Rio Grande Valley). An emergency quarantine has been established in the immediate area to limit the movement of potentially infected plant. We still do not know the extent of the spread but hope that it is limited to that one tree. See Texas Department of Agriculture press release. (http://bit.ly/zh85YD) and more information about citrus, check out http://saveourcitrus.org .
How does or can this news impact us? It depends….If you are a citrus grower who are exporting plants and fruit, it may mean that you might lose some business and/or have increased cost associated with treatment of plants and fruit prior to export. If you are the public that like citrus or citrus product, they may be an increase in prices of those product and/or a potential reduction in availability of the product.
Let us all hope that any of those scenarios would not happen. There are still things that can be done. We can all continue to be VIGILANT. For growers and people that have citrus trees in their yards: continue to be on the lookout for symptoms of this disease and treat for the vector (Asian Citrus Psyllid). Most of all, DO NOT bring in citrus plant material from areas that have this disease found (there is a quarantine for this) such as Florida, Louisiana and the quarantined part of Texas. Now that this disease is in Texas, we can still limit its range with continued vigilance.
Several other citrus problems looms ahead. Disease such as citrus black spot, citrus canker and citrus leprosis are some diseases that are not currently present in Texas. We would hope that they never show up, but realistically it probably will. By now, you may have realized the first two steps in dealing with diseases of agricultural importance. 1 – keep it out if at all possible and 2 – If it gets in, limit it from moving about. Both these steps requires us to be on the lookout. For us at the Plant Clinic, that means continue to have the ability to test for these diseases as well as developing educational materials and training folks (AgriLife agents to the homeowner) about the disease and what to look for.
Additional information about citrus greening can be found at http://texascitrusgreening.org and the citrus greening page on our Plant Clinic website (under HOT TOPICS)
The 2012 Citrus Greening symptoms calendar is still available at the Plant Clinic (come by and pick up one or more) or can be downloaded from our citrus greening information page.
Welcome to 2012. I hope that in the next few week I will be able to share with you other things that are happening at the Plant Clinic and the activities that are upcoming.