The UF/IFAS Tip of the Week shares the signs and symptoms of the exotic viral disease, Citrus leprosis.

The exotic viral disease Citrus leprosis hit Florida hard in the early 1099s, but it was irradicated in the 1960s. However, a UF/IFAS Tip of the Week article maintains that it’s present in The Sunshine State in non-citrus hosts. The vector that spreads the disease, false spider mites, is also present in Florida. The virus is also found in South and Central America, and it has already reached Mexico, according to the article. In Brazil, treatment for the virus accounts for nearly a quarter of production costs, and it can cause 100 percent yield losses depending on the citrus variety, according to the article. While it has not been found in Florida again, it is possible, so citrus growers need to keep an eye out. See the signs and symptoms below.

Signs and Symptoms of Citrus Leprosis

According to the article, “Citrus leprosis causes lesions on leaves, branches and fruit, leading to early fruit drop, dead branches and ultimately lower yield.” Other points include:

  • leprosis symptoms appear only at mite feeding sites on fruit, branches and leaves.
  • On fruit, young lesions are green spots with depressed centers surrounded by yellowish halos. With time, lesion centers will become brown.
  • On the leaves, symptoms appear as lesions on both sides of the leaf with a green center that later turns brown.
  • On branches, early lesions are green, turning a reddish or brown color with an irregular shape, and can cause the bark to peel.
  • Leprosis lesions are usually depressed, while canker lesions are raised.

If you suspect leprosis, contact your local Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Citrus Health Response Program office.

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