Friday, May 10, 2013

Disease with no cure threatens Fla. citrus industry

A tree infected with citrus greening.
(Jason Henry, NYT)
Florida's citrus industry could be wiped out if a cure isn't found for a disease that has cost the state $4.5 billion and 8,000 jobs since 2006, reports Lizette Alvarez for The New York Times. The disease, called citrus greening, is spread by a tiny insect, the Asian citrus psyllid, and starves trees of nutrients, causing fruit to turn bitter and fall from trees before it's ripe. The disease has also been reported in Texas, California and Arizona.

All 32 citrus-growing counties in Florida have been infected by the disease, reports Alvarez. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has downgraded the state's largest crop, oranges, for five straight months, and this year's harvest is down 10 percent from initial estimates. U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson said, “If we don’t find a cure, it will eliminate the citrus industry.” (Read more)

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