A total of 14 citrus trees infected with citrus greening disease have been destroyed, leaving experts hopeful that the destructive plant disease can be contained.

 Greening, or Huanglongbing, is a citrus plant disease that has no cure and eventually kills trees. Fruit from infected trees pose no health threat to humans, according to Dr. Mamoudou Setamou, an entomologist at the Texas A&M-Kingsville Citrus Center at Weslaco who facilitated the tree removal.

“It was important we take these trees out to remove the source of inoculum, the bacteria, and reduce the risk of the disease spreading,” Setamou said.

 The destruction included the first Texas citrus tree confirmed earlier this month to be infected with greening which is spread from tree to tree by an insect vector, the Asian citrus psyllid (pronounced SILL-id), he said.

 “The grove owner south of San Juan, who wishes to remain anonymous, agreed that the trees should be destroyed. He is very cooperative and very supportive of the area-wide psyllid control program,” Setamou said.

 The Texas citrus industry is concentrated in two counties of the Lower Rio Grande Valley, covering some 28,000 acres and responsible for 4,000 jobs, according to the Texas Department of Agriculture.

 “It’s that grower’s type of positive attitude, cooperation and teamwork that will help the Rio Grande Valley save its citrus industry from this devastating disease,” said Dr. Juan Anciso, a Texas AgriLife Extension Service fruit specialist in Weslaco.

 Immediately after the first confirmation of citrus greening, an intensive insecticide spray program was implemented that included commercial groves and trees in nearby residential areas.

 Earlier this week, five grapefruit trees in the grove were cut down, as well as nine orange trees in a nearby block, Setamou said.

 “A few days before they were cut down, the trees were sprayed with an insecticide to knock out any psyllids that might have been on the trees,” he said. “The cut trees were piled in a heap and sprayed again to prevent any escape of psyllids or the arrival of new ones. The pile will be burned once the cut trees have dried out sufficiently.”