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Valley citrus greening quarantine expands

20131004 ACP-adults-laying-eggsMISSION—The Texas Department of Agriculture announced Sept. 24 that a new area in the Rio Grande Valley would be quarantined due to the spread of citrus greening in Mission.

In January 2012, San Juan was the first city in South Texas to find citrus greening in two groves.

The quarantined area begins at Mile 6 Road and drops south to just north of Anzalduas Park. It runs west up to Showers Road in Palmview and ends in the east at 23rd Street in McAllen.

Citrus greening is not dangerous to humans or animals, but the fruit produced by an infected tree is not useable, depending on the stage of the disease. After a period of a few years with the infection, the tree eventually will die.

A small insect called the Asian citrus psyllid transports citrus greening, which can affect groves as well as residential citrus trees.

Citrus Greening Project Coordinator Heidi Arteaga, with Texas A&M Agrilife Extension-Hidalgo County, said there are multiple ways for homeowners to deal with infected plants and the psyllid. First, she said, residents need to learn about the citrus disease.

“What we want to do for now is educate our people, educate the residents.” Arteaga said. “Inspect your trees, there are some symptoms that you can look for but what we want people to do is look for the Asian citrus psyllid.”

Upon finding the insect, residents are asked to visit citrusalert.com where they can find options of how to treat their citrus plants as well the symptoms of an infected plant, that include lopsided, bitter fruit and asymmetrical blotchy leaves.

Arteaga said there are lists of organic and non-organic chemicals on the website for use to rid plants of psyllids, an infected tree can be reported on the website or residents can use a biological control on the psyllid nymphs (babies).

“A small wasp (tamarixia radiata) is a natural enemy of the Asian citrus psyllid,” Arteaga said. “We can release the wasp into your citrus tree and it will feed off the Asian Citrus Psyllid. It lowers the population.”

Arteaga said citrus plants within a quarantined area should not be moved outside of its border. This is a serious matter involving the Valley’s citrus groves, the coordinator said, adding that residents have been responsive and are moving forward with steps to limit the spreading of the unwanted insect.

“Residents are proactive, with an educated public we can save our Texas citrus industry,” Arteaga said. “The only prevention is to inspect our trees and treat the trees. We need to kill the insect that carries the bacteria. We can also prevent the spread by not moving plants.”

On Saturday, Arteaga will make a presentation about the affects of citrus greening and how to control it at the Speer Memorial Library from 11 a.m.–1 p.m. The presentation is free and open to the community.

Texas A&M Agrilife Extension-Hidalgo County, Texas A&M Kingsville Citrus Center, Texas Citrus Mutual, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Texas Department of Agriculture have all joined together to help with the spread of insects and keeping communities informed on disease prevention.

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CoverageAreaThe Progress Times is the hometown newspaper for the local communities of Mission, Sharyland, Alton, Palmview, La Joya and surrounding areas in Western Hidalgo County. We have a staff of veteran reporters who work diligently every week to bring our readers the latest news as it affects their hometown area and people.

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