Florida Growers Share HLB Fight

Taylor HillmanCitrus, Specialty Crops

Courtesy: USDA

Florida citrus growers were in California recently to share their real life accounts of huanglongbing (HLB) disease with the citrus industry.

Florida Growers Share HLB Fight

California Citrus Mutual brought several Florida growers out to California for its annual showcase. The point of the question-and-answer lunch was to give California’s industry a front-line perspective on citrus greening. Florida grower Rick Freeman was part of that group and his accounts of his fight in Florida are a little different than most as he had some warning of the spread of the disease.

Stay with AgNet West for more from Freeman and what he says he would do differently if he had the chance.

History of HLB in Florida
From the UC IPM website: The Asian citrus psyllid and huanglongbing disease originated in Asia or India and then spread to other areas of the world where citrus is grown. The psyllid was first found in the United States in June 1998 in Palm Beach County, Fla., on backyard plantings of orange jessamine, Murraya paniculata. By 2001 the psyllid had spread to 31 counties in Florida, primarily due to the movement of infested nursery plants. Agriculture officials believe HLB was present in Florida in backyard citrus trees, and the psyllid rapidly spread the disease to other backyards and commercial citrus not long after the psyllid arrived in Florida.

In 2001, the psyllid spread to the Rio Grande Valley in Texas on nursery stock (orange jessamine); it also was detected in Louisiana. The insect subsequently spread to other states and is now found in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, Arizona, California, and Hawaii as well as Mexico. Read more from the UC IPM website.