When the Texas Department of Agriculture learned that a crippling citrus disease had arrived in Louisiana that could not only harm the Texas citrus industry, but also disturb the production of Texas’ state fruit, the red grapefruit, I assembled a task force to protect our citrus crops. As word spread of the devastation to citrus crops in other states from a disease known as “citrus greening,” it became clear Texas had to do something to prevent the Lone Star State from experiencing a similar outcome.
Transmitted by the Asian Citrus Psyllid insect, citrus greening is a disease devouring hundreds of citrus groves in the United States, including Florida and most recently our neighbor, Louisiana. In fact, since 2005, the disease has claimed over 100,000 citrus acres in Florida alone.
While citrus greening has not been identified in Texas, unfortunately, the insect has already been detected in 56 Texas counties. This discovery is cause for awareness, and the newly created citrus greening task force will help protect citrus growers and prepare us for the possibility of infection. Composed of industry experts from Texas, California and Florida, this experienced group is ready to serve our state’s best interest.
Citrus production contributes about $150 million to the Texas economy annually. Our state produces the second highest amount of grapefruit and the third largest amount of oranges in the nation.
To protect our valuable industry, the task force plans to forestall citrus greening by establishing tactics to control the Asian Citrus Psyllid in Texas starting now.
For more information on the task force and its objectives visit the website at http://www.tda.state.tx.us/.