UF/IFAS experts believe that citrus leprosis could be a danger to Florida citrus if it re-enters the state.
A recent Citrus Industry article outlined the facts about the exotic viral disease, citrus leprosis in a proactive effort to educate Florida citrus growers on the disease and put them on high alert. According to the article, the disease is currently not present in The Sunshine State, but it is widespread in many places, including Mexico and all of South and Central America. The disease was also present in Florida in the early 1900s where it “caused great crop and tree losses” until being eradicated in the 1960s. See the details of the disease to know what to look for.
Details of Citrus Leprosis
According to the article, citrus leprosis is “a non-systemic viral disease that causes chlorotic lesions on citrus leaves, fruit and twigs.” These lesions are cause by the feeding of infected false spider mites, which are the vector of the disease. There are several species of false spider mites in Florida.
According to the article, sweet oranges, some grapefruit, mandarin, lime, sour orange, clementine, pummelo, kumquat, and sweet lime are susceptible, while sour orange, Meyer lemon, Royal grapefruit, mandarins, Minneola tangelo, and Temple tangors are resistant.
The disease causes necrotic lesions surrounded by a yellow halo, marking where infected mites fed. It can occur on the leaf, bark, and fruit of citrus trees. It ruins the commercial value of fresh fruit and can cause stem death, early fruit drop, and yield loss.
It’s believed the disease was eradicated in Florida due to a combination of the use of miticide and an “extreme freeze event” in 1962. Growers suspecting citrus leprosis should contact FDACS or their local Extension agent.
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