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Citrus greening confirmed in Louisiana
June 13, 2008
Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M. said USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) today confirmed the presence of citrus greening in Orleans Parish.
Citrus greening, or huanglongbing (HLB), is a devastating disease of citrus that prevents citrus fruit from ripening and ultimately kills the tree. HLB is spread by grafting with diseased budwood or by the feeding habits of the Asian citrus psyllid infected with the disease.
“The Asian citrus psyllid threatens to spread citrus greening in commercial citrus groves,” Strain said, “At the same time it also poses a serious risk of spreading the disease through ornamental plants, especially orange jasmine (Murraya species).”
The Asian citrus psyllid and citrus greening are on APHIS’ list of quarantined pests and diseases.
Strain said Orleans Parish will be placed on the federal lists of areas infected with citrus greeing and infested with Asian citrus psyllid.
“Future sales of Orleans Parish citrus trees will only be allowed within the parish as per USDA quarantine regulations,” Strain said. “It’s regrettable but it’s a necessary step we have to take to prevent the spread of the disease.”
Strain said Jefferson, Plaquemines and St. Charles parishes have only tested positive for the psyllid and not the disease and will only be quarantined for the insect.
The insect was found recently in five retail garden centers and 34residential properties in Orleans, Jefferson, Plaquemines and St. Charles parishes last week, Strain said. It also was found on a single plant at one retail center in Lafourche Parish.
LDAF and APHIS inspectors are continuing to survey south Louisiana for the insect and citrus greening.
Commercial and hobbyist citrus growers in parishes where the psyllid is found will need to comply with a special treatment program to prevent the spread of the Asian citrus psyllid before sales of citrus plants outside those parishes will be allowed.
Strain said the treatment plan will be finalized by APHIS, LDAF and the LSU AgCenter.
Strain stressed that the sale of citrus fruit is not affected by the quarantine but must be cleaned of all leaf material before it can be moved out of the regulated parishes.
Citrus is a $6.4 million commercial agricultural industry in Louisiana.
To view pictures of the Asian citrus psyllid and learn more about the insect and citrus greening disease, visit the LDAF Website at www.ldaf.state.la.us.
The information is located under the Office of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Horticulture and Quarantine Programs, Plant Pest Quarantine programs.