Calling the fight against citrus greening disease a cooperative effort, Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples addressed growers and nursery owners in the Rio Grande Valley Tuesday commending their preventative efforts to control Asian psyllid populations in recent years and praising rapid local, state and federal response to the discovery of the state’s first confirmed case of the disease.

While the disease decimated the Florida citrus industry in 2006 causing an estimated $3.6 billion in losses and forced 6,600 workers out of a job, Texas has avoided a case of the disease until this month when a single orange tree was discovered with the disease in a commercial grove near San Juan.

Citrus greening has also been detected in Georgia, South Carolina and Louisiana.

While the Asian psyllid, a moth that delivers the disease to citrus trees, has been present in the Valley for a number of years, a comprehensive psyllid control program initiated three years ago has helped to control population levels and may have been instrumental in delaying the movement of the disease to the Texas Valley.

“The detection of this plant disease in Texas has long been expected and, unfortunately, its spread is unavoidable,” Commissioner Staples said. “While citrus greening poses no threat to human health, it has caused serious economic damage to the citrus industries in Florida, Africa, Asia and South America. Our Texas citrus industry generates $140 million for our state’s economy each year, and today we are partnering with our growers and other experts to ensure our citrus groves continue to be healthy and productive.”