Satsuma Farmers Cautious of Citrus Greening

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JACKSON COUNTY-- Citrus productivity has gone down over the past ten years, mainly due to a deadly disease called citrus greening.
Luckily for farmers in our area, the disease hasn't done much damage. The only way to control the disease is through prevention.

Farmers have had it hard this past year. Heavy rain, dry weather and disease have all taken their toll.

Harvesting for citrus hasn't started yet, but citrus greening is already causing problems.

"Citrus greening is a phenomenon that's come into play over the last decade,” University of Florida Institute of Food and Agriculture Sciences Extension Horticulture Agent Matthew Orwat. said. “The cause of greening is a bacteria that lives within the Asian Citrus Psyllid. Okay? It's a small insect and it transmits greening from one plant into the other."

The deadly bacteria kills the trees' root and branch system, stunting the growth, taste and color of the fruit.

Luckily for Mack Glass, the issue hasn't hit home.

"It’s devastating financially,” Mack Glass, the manager of Cherokee Ranch of North Florida, said. “You begin to, pretty quickly, begin to get a negative cash flow on the grove."

Glass says the greening hasn't hit Northwest Florida, but it’s not the only problem that citrus farmers have to worry about.

"There is some canker over in Santa Rosa County, which is another citrus disease,” Glass said. “The university is trying to work with those people who own those trees, to destroy them and replace them with healthy trees."

Citrus canker is another highly contagious disease. It spreads through wind and rain. It causes lesions on the parts of a tree that are above ground. Once the disease gets into the tree, it can't be reversed.

"The first thing we'd do is destroy that tree. So that the Psyllid can't feed on an infected tree," explained Glass.

"Don't transport, unlabeled, unidentified citrus trees from anywhere in the state, and don't produce citrus trees on your own and move them because you could be a transporter of citrus greening," explained Orwat.

Most of the citrus trees affected by the bacterial diseases are in South Florida.