Texas agricultural officials have found an orange tree infected with the tree-killing Citrus Greening Disease. This is the first confirmed discovery of the deadly tree disease, which has already been confirmed to have infected trees in Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, and South Carolina.
Citrus Greening Disease was initially discovered in Florida in 2006 and is spread by an aphid-like insect called the Asian Citrus Psyllid. At this time there is no cure for Citrus Greening Disease. Once infected the citrus tree will slowly turn yellow and die. Fruit from infected citrus trees may not ripen, or the fruit may be sour or misshapen.
Citrus production brings about $140 million annually to the Texas economy. Texas ranks second in the United States in the production of grapefruit and third in orange production.
In an interesting development to our knowledge of Citrus Greening Disease, researchers have recently discovered a second way the insect picks up the disease. It was previously believed the psyllid could only become a carrier of the disease by feeding on an infected citrus tree. It’s now been shown an infected psyllid can transmit the disease to another psyllid during mating. This is the first known instance of a disease being transmitted from one insect to another insect.
Dr. Juan Anciso from the Texas AgriLife Extension Service recommends homeowners with citrus trees have them sprayed to reduce the Asian Citrus Psyllid population. Homeowners can spray their own trees or contact an arborist or tree service to spray their citrus trees.