What is in this article?:
- New emergency citrus quarantine in Texas Valley
- Disease first detected in San Juan in 2012
- History of HLB in the U.S.
- Outreach efforts to target commercial growers and homeowners
The Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) has issued a second citrus quarantine area in the Texas Rio Grande Valley after a single grapefruit near Mission tested positive last week for Huanglongbing (HLB), or citrus greening disease.
Disease first detected in San Juan in 2012
On January 13, 2012, the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) and APHIS confirmed the first detection of citrus greening in Texas. TDA immediately placed an emergency quarantine on the entire area for a 5-mile radius of the infected tree, which was located in San Juan near the Rio Grande River. An emergency quarantine of the five-mile area remains in effect although some details of the quarantine have been revised. No citrus nursery trees inside the quarantine area may be moved, and no citrus trees outside the quarantined area may be moved into the quarantined area except under a special permit issued by TDA.
State and federal agriculture officials warn that HLB is an extremely destructive plant disease that threatens the state’s citrus industry and detection of the disease in an orchard or grove constitutes emergency action.
On March 14, 2012, however, TDA issued an updated emergency quarantine that specifies conditions for movement of citrus nursery stock within and outside of the citrus zone. The citrus zone includes the following counties: Brooks, Cameron, Hidalgo, Jim Hogg, Kenedy, Starr, Willacy and Zapata.
Control of the insect is the only way to prevent the spread of the disease to other citrus trees. Even before the first infected tree was discovered in the Valley, citrus producers, aided by Texas Citrus Mutual, were participating in a voluntary spraying program on a regular schedule because the insect can be found in larger numbers across the Texas-Mexican border. Before the first case of HLB was uncovered in Texas, officials knew it was just a matter of time before the insect infected Valley citrus groves.
A more aggressive spraying schedule after that first detection is credited with preventing widespread infection to other Valley citrus areas.