Gardening: Updated information on canker

Typical citrus canker symptoms on leaves, stems and fruit of grapefruit.

Courtesy Florida Dept. of Agriculture and Consumer Services

Typical citrus canker symptoms on leaves, stems and fruit of grapefruit.

This week’s column is again dedicated to citrus canker and greening, two serious diseases of citrus. Some of my information two weeks ago was out of date and needs to be corrected.

While both of these diseases are present throughout the state of Florida, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has stopped trying to eradicate this disease by destroying commercial grove and residential citrus trees infected with canker, as it was determined the disease was too widely spread due to hurricanes and cutting delays caused by legal constraints.

The state continues to conduct multi-pest surveys and requires commercial citrus growers to submit compliance agreements. They also inspect trees for sale in nurseries and the USDA checks fruit leaving Florida for canker.

While citrus can be moved within the state, it is restricted when shipped out of state. The USDA will allow fresh citrus that has been inspected and shows no signs of canker and that is commercially packed, to be shipped to non-citrus producing states whether grown in a commercial grove or a homeowner’s back yard (residential citrus can only be shipped out of state if it has been inspected and given a permit to ship by the USDA). This is because commercially packed fruit is washed, disinfected, graded and inspected by government inspectors.

These specially marked containers are given a limited permit for shipment to non citrus producing states and territories. Citrus producing states and territories you cannot ship citrus to include: Arizona, California, Hawaii, Louisiana, Texas, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam & the Northern Mariana Islands.

If you are a homeowner and want to ship your citrus to family up north you can contact a local packing house to see if they can assist you. There is a list of these packing houses on a Web site I’ll provide at the end of this column.

The Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services, Division of Plant Industry, has a Citrus Health Response Program to provide the citrus industry with citrus health updates and pest and disease management information which is also at the Web site.

As for citrus greening, on Jan. 11, 2008, the quarantine area was expanded from 30 Florida counties to include the entire state of Florida.

This federal order also includes a quarantine for the Asian citrus psyllid for all of Florida, Guam, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and 32 counties in Texas.

This quarantine restricts the intrastate movement of Asian citrus psyllid host plants. This insect is a serious pest of citrus and the main vector of citrus greening.

Although the insect has been found in these other areas citrus greening has only been found in Florida. In order for plants which host this insect to be shipped from the quarantined areas, it they must be treated, inspected and accompanied by a limited permit that again prevents distribution to any citrus producing states or territories where the ACP is not present.

Some of the more common host plants in our area include but are not limited to: Calamondin, all citrus (oranges, grapefruit, etc.), kumquat, orange-jasmine, wild lime.

For a complete list of plants and much more information on these diseases visit the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Web site atdoacs.state.fl.us/pi/canker/photos.html.

I just received an update this morning that Asiatic citrus canker has been found in a residential grapefruit tree on Lely Island Circle in Lely. This is the second known find in Naples. Another tree was discovered last summer on Sabal Palm Road. If you do lawn maintenance in the area don’t touch the infected trees or fruit and voluntarily practice decontamination methods to avoid spreading it around Naples.

Learn what canker looks like, and teach your employees as there may be other infected trees around Naples and Marco Island.

Eileen Ward and her husband, Peter, own and operate Greensward of Marco Inc., a lawn maintenance and landscaping company. Besides completing horticultural courses from the University of Florida, she has a commercial maintenance spray license and is a registered dealer in agricultural products in Florida.

© 2009 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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