Citrus greening threatens Floridian groves

Symptoms of citrus greening on citrus leaf

Symptoms of citrus greening on citrus leaf © CABI

Mabel Smith is an Oxfordshire school student, studying both the arts and the sciences. She is interning at CABI for Plantwise and the marketing department.

The disease, citrus greening, which is also known as huanglongbing and caused by the fastidious bacteria Candidatus Liberibacter, continues to cause problems for Floridian growers this week. The psyllids that spread this pathogen are now running rampage throughout more than half of Florida’s citrus producing counties, causing an expected 20% decline in  harvest. Over the last 20 years around 60 million citrus trees have been abandoned across half a million acres of land due to this rapidly spreading and, so far, incurable disease. Citrus greening has already caused irreversible damage in Asia and South America and many growers in Florida are giving up on the citrus market altogether to turn to more reliable alternatives like peach growing. Despite this, many growers are still optimistic and millions of dollars are currently being invested in further agricultural research into a cure.

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Amino acid stops citrus industry going sour

Lime Swallowtail by Tarique Sani,
SANIsoft, Bugwood.org

The citrus industry is of significant economic importance to the US, so when any potential pest appears on the horizon there is cause for concern. When the lime swallowtail (Papilio demoleus) was found in the Caribbean in 2006, scientists realised that it may only be a matter of time before these strong fliers appear in America. To try and keep one flight ahead of this zesty pest, scientists have come up with a rather neat solution.

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