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Strategic Planning for the Florida Citrus Industry, Report in Brief

Strategic Planning for the Florida Citrus Industry, Report in Brief

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Published by earthandlife
Among the many citrus diseases to have invaded Florida, citrus greening disease presents the greatest threat to Florida's $9.3 billion citrus industry. Citrus greening, also known as huanglongbing or HLB, reduces yield and compromises the flavor, color, and size of citrus fruit before eventually killing the citrus tree. Caused by an insect-spread bacterial infection, citrus greening infects every type of citrus and is now present in all 34 Floridian citrus producing counties.

At the request of the Florida Department of Citrus, the National Research Council convened a committee to develop a strategic plan for addressing citrus greening disease. The committee examined the current citrus disease situation in Florida and the status of public and private efforts to address citrus greening, as well as the capacity of the industry to mobilize a scientifically based response to disease threats. The report found that in the near-term a successful citrus greening response will focus on earlier detection of diseased trees so that these sources of new infections can be removed more quickly, and on new methods to control the insects that carry the bacteria.

Among the many citrus diseases to have invaded Florida, citrus greening disease presents the greatest threat to Florida's $9.3 billion citrus industry. Citrus greening, also known as huanglongbing or HLB, reduces yield and compromises the flavor, color, and size of citrus fruit before eventually killing the citrus tree. Caused by an insect-spread bacterial infection, citrus greening infects every type of citrus and is now present in all 34 Floridian citrus producing counties.

At the request of the Florida Department of Citrus, the National Research Council convened a committee to develop a strategic plan for addressing citrus greening disease. The committee examined the current citrus disease situation in Florida and the status of public and private efforts to address citrus greening, as well as the capacity of the industry to mobilize a scientifically based response to disease threats. The report found that in the near-term a successful citrus greening response will focus on earlier detection of diseased trees so that these sources of new infections can be removed more quickly, and on new methods to control the insects that carry the bacteria.

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Published by: earthandlife on Dec 08, 2010
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Strategic Planning for theFlorida Citrus Industry
trees and the adverse effects of the infectionhad reduced Florida citrus production byseveral percent. The rapid spread of the diseasethreatens continued reductions in the future.The incursion of citrus greening diseasehas been more effective thanany prior event in bringingindustry, government, anduniversities together in thedefense of citrus productionin Florida. Local, state andinternational meetings havebeen organized to educatecitrus growers about thedisease, and increased industryand government research efforts have yieldedinsight into citrus greening that could result inthe development of new disease and insectcontrol strategies. However, there is an urgentneed to identify immediate actions to keep thecitrus industry viable while new approaches forlong-term disease mitigation are developed.At the request of the Florida Departmentof Citrus, the National Research Councilconvened a committee to develop a strategic
A
mong the many citrus diseases thathave invaded Florida, citrus greening,known in the international scienti
ccommunity as huanglongbing or HLB, presentsthe greatest threat to Florida’s citrus industry.Citrus greening infects everytype of citrus, and can quicklyspread from one tree to awhole orchard. Infected treesyield fewer fruit, and the fruitthat is produced is small,lopsided, green in color, andhas a bitter
avor, renderingit unusable. There is no curefor citrus greening disease.In Florida, citrus greening is universallyassociated with the bacterium
Candidatus
 Liberibacter asiaticus, which is spread byan insect called the Asian citrus psyllid(pronounced
“sill-id”
). First detected in theUnited States in Florida in 2005, the diseasehas spread throughout Florida’s citrus-producing counties and has also been reportedin Texas, Georgia, Louisiana, and SouthCarolina. By 2008, the removal of infected
Citrus greening, a disease that reduces yield, compromises the
avor, color, and size of citrusfruit and eventually kills the citrus tree, is now present in all 34 Floridian citrus-producingcounties. Caused by an insect-spread bacterial infection, the disease reduced citrus produc-tion in 2008 by several percent and continues to spread, threatening the existence of Florida’s$9.3 billion citrus industry. A successful citrus greening response will focus on earlierdetection of diseased trees, so that these sources of new infections can be removed morequickly, and on new methods to control the insects that carry the bacteria. In the longer-term, technologies such as genomics could be used to develop new citrus strains that areresistant to both the bacteria and the insect.
Addressing Citrus Greening Disease
 
plan for addressing citrus greening disease. Thecommittee was charged to examine the currentcitrus disease situation in Florida and the statusof public and private efforts to address citrusgreening, the capacity of the industry to mobilizea scienti
cally based response to disease threatsand to translate scienti
c advances into productsand services for the protection of Florida CitrusIndustry in the short and long term.
Responses to Citrus Greening
The report’s authoring committee found thatat the present time, there are no effective means of curing a tree once it becomes infected with citrusgreening. Treatments with heat or antibiotics areeffective for shoot cuttings used in nursery stock but cannot eradicate the disease from whole trees.Vigorous pruning of symptomatic parts of the treeprovides only short-term relief, and nutritionalsprays have not demonstrated any real bene
ts inpreventing the spread of citrus greening. Thecommittee concluded that currently, the bestapproach for managing the disease is to:
Remove infected trees to reduce the pool of bacteria
Keep Asian citrus psyllid populations as low aspossible
Ensure that replacement trees are grown ininsect-proof greenhouses, as has been requiredin Florida since January 2008
High-priority Recommendations
Although the committee is optimistic thatadvances in modern biology will enable the devel-opment of new methods to prevent or control citrusgreening disease in the future, there are severalhigh-priority actions that could help sustain theFlorida citrus industry until these new approacheshave been developed. Those actions should beimplemented simultaneously, and are focused onways to improve the ef 
ciency and effectivenessof current best management practices to limit thespread of the disease.
Create Citrus Health Management Areas
Establishing Citrus Health Management Areaswould facilitate the coordinated control of psyllidpopulations, and the removal of trees infected withcitrus greening. Citrus Health Management Areaswill be regions of about 10,000 to 50,000 acres withsimilar levels of infection, which will mandate bestmanagement practices for the clean-up of abandonedorchards, the design and implementation of compen-sation plans, coordination of area-wide psyllidsprays, and removing infected urban citrus. Themanagement areas should also include test plots tofacilitate high-priority studies aimed at developingnew strategies for managing the disease.
 Integrate efforts to improve practices forinsecticidal control of the psyllid 
To date, the application of insecticides hasbeen the most effective method of psyllid popula-tion control, but there are concerns that the wide-spread use of insecticides could result in severalnegative consequences. Repeated use of the sameinsecticides could lead to the emergence of astrain of insecticide-resistant psyllids, expose farmworkers to potentially dangerous levels of chemi-cals, reduce populations of bene
cial insects, andcontaminate groundwater. The committee
Citrus fruit ranks as
rst internationally in trade value among all fruitsand is produced commercially in about 140 countries, but the primarycitrus producers are Brazil, the Mediterranean Basin, the United States,and China. In the United States, Florida (68.7 percent), California(27.5 percent) and Texas (2.7 percent) and Arizona (1.1 percent) producealmost the entire commercial citrus crop. Brazil and Florida dominatethe production of oranges for juice, and Florida’s hot, humid climate isprefect for producing oranges with high juice content.The Florida citrus industry is estimated to have a $9.3 billioneconomic impact, employing approximately 80,000 people full-time ascitrus grove workers, seasonal pickers, haulers, processers, packers andmanagers. The combined annual wage of citrus workers in Florida is$2.7 billion, or about 1.5 percent of the state’s wage income.
Florida citrus production in tons (lines) and dollarvalue (bars).
Source: USDA-NASS (2008)
The Citrus Industry
 
result in the development of a test to identify treesinfected with the disease before visual symptomsemerge, speeding the time to their removal fromthe orchard.
 Emphasize to growers the importance of removal  of infected trees in groves, and encourage homeowners to remove backyard citrus trees,especially infected trees
Citrus growers need a better understandingof the critical importance of rapid detection andremoval of affected trees for mitigation of citrusgreening. Training programs should be used toteach scouting and detection methods. The newsmedia and internet should be used to informhomeowners in Florida about the role of backyardcitrus and ornamental relatives of citrus (such asOrange Jasmine or
 Murraya
) in spreading thedisease. Regulations enforcing the removal of citrus trees from residential property would bevery dif 
cult to enforce; homeowners must beencouraged to plant citrus substitutes voluntarily.
 Near-, Intermediate- and Long-term Strategies
In addition to its highest priorities, thecommittee recommends starting work onnumerous research directions with near-, interme-diate-, and long-term outcomes. First, in order todevelop citrus cultivars resistant to the disease—a potentially lengthy process—the search shouldbegin now for molecules that can make citrusplants resistant to the bacteria and the insect.recommends integrating new research approacheswith management efforts to maximize insecticideeffectiveness while minimizing risks. Such newresearch includes monitoring
uctuations in levelsof psyllid populations over the course of a year,studying psyllid behavior to understand how theyacquire and transmit the bacteria, testing newinsecticide ingredients, and experimenting withthe timing of insecticide applications relative to theappearance of “
ush”, the new growth on citrustrees favored by psyllids.
Support the search for biomarkers for early detection of disease
To limit the spread of disease, infected treesare removed to reduce the pool of infected treesfor psyllids to feed on. Infected trees are visuallyidenti
ed by the mottled leaves and yellow shootswhich are symptomatic of citrus greening, andlaboratory tests are used to con
rm the diagnosis.However, visual identi
cation can sometimesmiss infected trees—visible symptoms can takemonths or even years to emerge, and trees thatwere mature when infected often display onlymild symptoms. If infected trees could be identi-
ed and removed sooner than visual scoutingallows, the spread of citrus greening would besigni
cantly reduced. Biomarkers are chemicalsignals such as tree volatiles or protein levels thatchange in response to a speci
c biological event,such as infection with citrus greening. Researchto identify the biomarkers for citrus greening could
 Asian Citrus Psyllids
A pest of citrus and close relatives of citrus, Asian citrus psyllids damage citrusplants through their feeding activities—theinsects extract a large amount of sap asthey feed, and produce honeydew, a clear,sticky secretion that coats the leaves of thecitrus plant and encourages a sooty mold togrow. Psyllids also inject a salivary toxininto the leaves as they feed, which preventsleaves from expanding properly. New shootgrowth that is infested with psyllids cannotdevelop properly, and is susceptible tobreaking off. Even more serious than thisdirect damage, psyllids spread the bacte-rium that causes the citrus greeninginfection, picking it up by feeding oninfected citrus plants, and passing it onwhen they move on for their next meal.Asian citrus psyllids are native to Asiabut are now found in many countries. Inthe United States, psyllids
rst appeared inFlorida in 1998. The insects were acciden-tally spread to Texas in 2001 on citrusnursery stock imported from Florida.Asian citrus psyllids are fed upon by manytypes of predators, including spiders,lacewings, and their primary predator, thecocconellid beetle, or ladybug; however,these predators are not effective inreducing the spread of citrus greening.
Photos by David Hall, USDA-ARS (
top
)Michael Rogers, UF-CREC (
bottom
)

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