Over the past few years, we have learned about an important issue faced by Florida’s citrus industry: the fight against citrus greening disease.  Recently, the Associated Press reported that the issue is making national headlines and Federal agriculture officials are joining Florida’s battle. The article, published on December 12, reported The U.S. Department of Agriculture is creating an “emergency response framework” to battle citrus greening. It will gather various groups, agencies and experts to coordinate and focus federal research on fighting the disease.

What is citrus greening?

Citrus greening is a bacteria that is spread by insects and causes trees to produce green, disfigured, and bitter fruit. The bacteria eventually kills the tree and can devastate a grove.  Florida’s citrus industry is a $9 billion a year industry. It is estimated 69 million trees have been affected, which makes up 75 percent of the total trees.

A report from the University of Florida shares that a UF researcher has mapped the genome of a new strain of citrus greening that could impact Florida’s citrus industry.

Professor Dean Gabriel, a plant bacteriology specialist with the University of Florida, helped to map the genome of a Brazilian strand of citrus greening. There is hope the new strand of DNA will help researchers overcome the citrus greening problem.

The somewhat other good news is that officials are treating the issue like they would a hurricane.  It could have devastating effects on the industry, and so it should be. It’s also a reminder of how blessed we are with our Florida produce and how important it is to protect this valuable asset.