In Florida the disease has spread to all parts of the state threatening to cripple a $9 billion-a-year industry that supplies 90 percent of U.S. orange juice. The Florida Department of Citrus predicts that citrus greening will cut Florida orange production by 5 percent to 6 percent a year until a cure is found or disease-resistant trees are developed and widely planted. That translates into cutting orange production nearly in half over the next decade.

Citrus greening is widespread in Brazil, Cuba, Belize, and southern Mexico and four U.S. states (Florida, Louisiana. South Carolina, Georgia) – but so far the disease has not been detected in either California or Texas, although the Asian citrus psyllid (ACP) is widespread in both states. The psyllid is also found in Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina.

While there have been no confirmed reports of Citrus greening in Texas or California, Dr. John da Graca, a plant pathologist and director of the Texas A&M-Kingsville Citrus Center in Weslaco, a USDA citrus testing facility, says the Asian psyllid is well rooted in both states.

“In the (Texas) Rio Grande Valley alone we have confirmed large populations of the psyllid, first detected in 2001. By 2006 we detected psyllid populations in the Big Bend area, in College Station and the Houston area, and many areas south of that line that divides the state into north and south regions,” da Graca reports.

Da Graca agrees with Hawkins that Texas and California commercial growers are doing a good job in monitoring orchards for signs of the disease and are actively involved in prevention planning and attempts to control psyllid populations. He says the greatest threat of outbreak in the state comes from infiltration of nursery stock and cuttings from infected tress and plants from out of state, a problem Hawkins says is a challenge.