“We’re getting close. It looks promising. It’s positive, and we’re making progress, but we’re still working on a solution.”

In his talk, Kress provided an overview of citrus greening’s effect on the Florida citrus industry.

“It spread very quickly,” he said. “Greening was first confirmed in Florida in 2005 and in three years had been found in every citrus-producing county of the state. There are no formal surveys being taken today, but the consensus is that every citrus grove in Florida has greening to some degree. No one can say they don’t have greening.”

Southern Gardens Citrus has lost some 700,000 trees to the disease, Kress said.

“We’ve lost 25 to 28 percent of our total acreage since the disease was detected,” he said. “It’s a tough one. We remove trees when infection is found, but not all growers follow the same practice. They try nutritional programs and other efforts to maintain and extend the life of the tree. But by doing so, are we increasing the rate of infection to other trees? There are more questions than answers at this point.”

The disease is spread from tree to tree by the Asian citrus psyllid, an insect that growers should assume is in their fields, Kress said.

“Some growers spray insecticides only after they find psyllids,” he said. “That’s too late. Growers should put their spray program in place to take care of it.”

Despite greening’s magnitude, Kress remains optimistic.

“We’re gonna figure it out,” he said. “We will find a solution, somewhere, somehow.”

 

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