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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.
Outreach efforts to target commercial growers and homeowners
Also, extensive plans have been developed for outreach efforts with homeowners in the quarantine area. The homeowner with the most recent positive tree voluntarily agreed to remove the tree and an additional citrus tree that was touching it, even though the second tree and all the other trees on the property were sampled and tested negative for the disease.
The two trees were removed by Texas A&M Citrus Center personnel Sept. 27, according to approved protocol procedures. The citrus industry and the team working on this new development say homeowner cooperation is appreciated as it greatly aids the commercial industry in controlling the spread of the disease.
Under the leadership of TCM, a new addition to the program will include more emphasis and suggestions on how to control psyllids at the interface between backyard citrus and commercial groves. There will also be more emphasis on having growers with properties in close proximity to one another treat their respective groves as close to the same time as possible.
TCM and state and federal officials say growers in the Valley should plan on attending upcoming meetings in both quarantine zones to discuss rules, limitations and strategies.
The Mission quarantine meeting will be staged Thursday, Oct. 10, at the Mission Chamber of Commerce meeting room where a free lunch will follow. All grove owners, growers and grove care managers within the new five-mile Mission quarantine area should attend.
The San Juan quarantine meeting is set for Wednesday, Oct. 23, at the Hilton Garden Inn in McAllen, registration begins at 11:30 a.m., a free lunch will also be provided for growers attending this meeting. All grove owners, growers and grove care managers within the five-mile quarantine centered in San Juan should attend.
In addition, two special zone meetings will be staged in the Valley. The Zone 1 area wide meeting will be held 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 23, at Hilton Garden Inn in McAllen. All grove owners, growers and grove care managers within the five-mile quarantine centered in San Juan are invited to attend.
The Zone 2 special meeting is set for 8:30 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 24, at the Texas AgriLife Research & Extension Center, in Weslaco. All grove owners, growers and grove managers operating east of U.S. 281 should attend.
For more information or to RSVP for any of these meetings, interested parties should contact Hilda Castillo at 956-584-1772 or Hilda@valleyag.org.
According to TDA officials, the disease poses no threat to human health as it affects only the tree and not the fruit. The disease has caused serious economic damage to the citrus industries in Florida, Africa, Asia and South America, but so far control efforts have minimized damage in the Rio Grande Valley. Citrus producers and homeowners with citrus plants are asked to comply with quarantine measures to protect Texas citrus trees.