The Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries says a lethal plant disease has been found in the state.
Federal and state plant health officials confirmed the disease, commonly referred to as “citrus greening”, has been detected on Dauphin Island. It is the first appearance of the disease in Alabama, but citrus greening has been a cause of major concerns for the U.S. citrus industry.
For example, since the first detection of citrus greening in Florida in 2005, orange acreage has been reduced by 26 percent and yield has decreased by 42 percent. Orange production dropped from 242 million boxes to 104.6 million boxes in 2014. Overall, the impact on the citrus industry has been devastating.
Because of the discovery, officials have begun the process of stopping the movement of citrus trees from the Mobile County area. The state also has plans to establish measures that will allow federal regulators to set up similar quarantines in counties where the disease has been detected.
Citrus greening is caused by a bacteria that reduces how much citrus fruit is produced, and eventually makes the fruit that is produced become green, bitter, and unusable. The disease poses no risk to humans or animals but can cause a citrus tree to die within three to five years.
According to officials, there is no known cure or control for the disease. Once a citrus tree has been infected, the best thing owners can do is to remove the tree in the hopes of halting its spread. While healthy citrus trees can be productive for over 50 years, the disease can cut that lifespan down to 15 years or less.
The bacteria responsible for citrus greening is spread by an insect known as the Asian citrus psyllid, or ACP. The insect was actually discovered in Baldwin County in 2008, but subsequent analysis showed that no citrus greening was taking place there.
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