The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) has been forced to expand the quarantine area in Tulare County after the discovery of additional Asian citrus psyllids in the region. The Grower reports, that as a result, a new 110-mile quarantine area exists, adjacent to Tulare’s existing quarantine area. Although not yet defined or announced, CDFA is expected to further expand the quarantine area due to the detection of a single psyllid trapped outside the current and newly-announced quarantine areas.
Citrus growers fear the presence of the insects since they have the ability to spread a bacterial disease called huanglongbing, which greens citrus fruit, is not harmful to humans, but its effects can be devastating to citrus trees since there is no-known cure for it.
Recently, however, a research group from the University of Florida may have discovered a treatment. Tests were conducted to examine three different treatments and one, in particular, halted the bacteria in 80 percent of the tree shoots tested. The chemical, Benzbromarone, is actually used as a gout treatment for humans. The research was published in the April 24 issue of the online journal, PLOS Pathogens.
In the meantime, the U.S. government is stepping in to assist in the fight. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced today that $31.5 million is being allocated for several research projects.
Today's announcement provides funding to the Citrus Disease Research and Education Program (CDRE) and is a supplement of the Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI). The 2014 Farm Bill provides $25 million per year for a total of $125 million of the USDA Specialty Crop Research Initiative funding toward citrus health research over the next five years.
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