A UF/IFAS researcher warns of possibility of leprosis re-infection and advises Florida citrus growers to be on the lookout for the disease.

Citrus leprosis has not been present in Florida since 1968, but one UF/IFAS researcher warns that leprosis re-infection is highly possible. Currently, the disease is present in several countries in South and Central America, and in South Mexico. Ozgur Batuman, a UF/IFAS citrus pathologist, shared his words of caution and signs and symptoms of citrus leprosis at a recent Citrus Seminar, according to a Citrus Industry article. Explore the details below.

Preventing Citrus Leprosis Re-Infection

Batuman said leprosis re-infection was “an approaching threat to Florida citrus,” according to the article. It’s a “non-systemic viral disease that causes chlorotic lesions on citrus leaves, fruit, twigs and branches” that mainly affects sweet oranges and mandarins. The vector for leprosis is certain species of Brevipalpus mites, or flat mites or false spider mites. These mites are present in every major U.S. citrus-growing area, including Florida. Controlling the mite is the usual method of managing leprosis.

In addition to the lesions, citrus leprosis also causes “lower fruit quality, premature leaf and fruit drop, decreased foliar area, and branch death.” According to the article, trees that are not treated will eventually die from the disease. Growers who think they may have the disease in their groves should alert either the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services or a UF/IFAS Extension specialist, according to Batuman.

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