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LDAF and LSU AgCenter Partner to Fight Citrus Disease
February 27, 2018
Baton Rouge, La. (February 27, 2018) –The Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) and the LSU AgCenter are joining efforts on a project to fight citrus canker disease. Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M., said the goal is to identify citrus canker tolerant satsuma cultivars.
Citrus canker is a bacterial disease of citrus trees. The first Louisiana detection was in June of 2013 at City Park in New Orleans. Since the initial detection, citrus has been closely monitored by the LDAF, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and LSU AgCenter to mitigate spread of the disease. During 2014-2016, the LSU AgCenter’s Plant Diagnostic Center under the supervision of Dr. Raj Singh, processed 292 citrus plant tissue samples as a part of the citrus cooperative agricultural pest survey conducted by the LDAF.
“Data collected from these samples showed that Louisiana satsuma cultivars are tolerant to citrus canker disease,” Singh said. “Together, with the LDAF, we hope to identify the specific satsuma cultivars in an effort to enhance Louisiana’s citrus industry.”
According to LSU AgCenter Ag Summary, citrus was grown on 832 acres in Louisiana in 2016. Citrus production and harvesting of fruit occurred on 283 acres of navels, 521 acres of satsumas and 28 acres of other types of citrus (lemons, grapefruit and kumquats, among others). Plaquemines Parish remained the leading producer of citrus in the state with satsuma production totaling 177,131 bushels in 2016. Citrus generated a total farm gate value of $6.1 million.
To accomplish the project objectives, healthy satsuma trees of different cultivars will be located in south Louisiana at five known citrus canker infested locations for two years. Disease incidence and disease severity data will be collected and analyzed to determine the satsuma susceptibility to citrus canker.
“Citrus trees, especially satsumas, are grown commercially and are the backyard fruit tree of choice in south Louisiana,” Strain said. “We hope this project will ensure that this tradition will carry on for many generations to come.”
The disease is spread by wind driven rain and causes lesions on the leaves, stems and fruit. The fruit is still edible and is not harmful to humans.
The efforts to study and mitigate this disease are being funded through a USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant Program.