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Project aims to prevent spread of disease infecting citrus trees

Source: LSU Ag Center Source: LSU Ag Center
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) -

The Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry and the LSU AgCenter are joining efforts on a project to fight a bacterial disease infecting citrus trees.

The disease is called the citrus canker disease.

Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain said the goal is to identify citrus canker tolerant satsuma cultivars.

The first Louisiana detection of the disease was in June of 2013 at City Park in New Orleans.

Since the initial detection, citrus has been closely monitored by the LDAF, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and LSU AgCenter to prevent the spread of the disease, according to the report.

During 2014-2016 years, 292 citrus plant tissue samples were processed as a part of the citrus cooperative agricultural pest survey conducted by the LDAF.

"Data collected from these samples showed that Louisiana satsuma cultivars are tolerant to citrus canker disease," Singh said in an issued report. "Together, with the LDAF, we hope to identify the specific satsuma cultivars in an effort to enhance Louisiana's citrus industry."

According to LSU AgCenter Ag Summary, citrus was grown on 832 acres in Louisiana in 2016.

Citrus production and harvesting of fruit occurred on 283 acres of navels, 521 acres of satsumas and 28 acres of other types of citrus such as lemons, grapefruit and kumquats, among others.

Plaquemines Parish remained the leading producer of citrus in the state with satsuma production totaling 177,131 bushels in 2016. Citrus generated a total farm gate value of $6.1 million. 

To accomplish the project objectives, healthy satsuma trees of different cultivars will be located in south Louisiana at five known citrus canker infested locations for two years, according to the report.

The report said the data will be collected and analyzed to determine the satsuma susceptibility to citrus canker.

"Citrus trees, especially satsumas, are grown commercially and are the backyard fruit tree of choice in south Louisiana," Strain said. "We hope this project will ensure that this tradition will carry on for many generations to come."

The disease is spread by wind driven rain and causes lesions on the leaves, stems and fruit, according to the report.  

The fruit is still edible and is not harmful to humans.

The efforts to study and prevent the spreading of this disease are being funded through a USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. 

For more information about the project or citrus canker disease, visit www.ldaf.la.gov or www.lsuagcenter.com

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