USDA awards US$20.1M in grants to fight citrus greening disease - FreshFruitPortal.com

USDA awards US$20.1M in grants to fight citrus greening disease

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USDA awards US$20.1M in grants to fight citrus greening disease

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has awarded US$20.1 million in grants to help citrus producers in the fight against Huanglongbing (citrus greening disease).

Diaphorina citri, the pest that spreads the disease. Photo: David Hall, USDA ARS

Diaphorina citri, the pest that spreads the disease. Photo: David Hall, USDA ARS

"Citrus greening has affected more than 75 percent of Florida citrus crops and threatens production all across the United States," says U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

"The research and extension projects funded bring us one step closer to providing growers real tools to fight the disease, from early detection to creating long-term solutions for the industry, producers and workers."

The funding is available to university researchers through the Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI) Citrus Disease Research and Extension Program (CDRE).

The SCRI program has been addressing the critical needs of the specialty crop industry since its inception in 2014 and has granted $43.6 million to combat the destructive disease which was first detected in Florida in 2005.

It has also been detected in Georgia, Louisiana, South Carolina and Texas as well as Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and 14 states in Mexico. A total of 15 U.S. states or territories are under full or partial quarantine due to the detected presence of the Asian citrus psyllid, a vector for citrus greening disease.

These are Alabama, American Samoa, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Guam, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Texas and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Various research studies continue at the University of Florida and Washington State University focusing on growing the putative pathogenic bacterium in artificial culture to help manage the disease. Another project at the University of Florida will develop morpholino-based bactericides to reduce pathogen transmission and eliminate infections in existing trees.

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