IN THIS ISSUE:
SUPREME COURT RULINGS
TEMPORARY BAN ON SOUTH AFRICAN CITRUS
CITRUS CANKER STRIKES AGAIN
SUPREME COURT RULINGS-
Back in 2002, a group of Florida citrus growers filed a lawsuit challenging the box tax on Florida citrus as being in violation of the First Amendment. The box tax essentially provides about three-fourths of the annual budget of the Florida Department of Citrus. Support for the challenge was a 2001 Supreme Court decision which ruled that the USDA tax on mushroom growers violated the First Amendment.
On May 23, 2005, the Supreme Court ruled that the tax on cattle sales used to promote beef consumption was immune from First Amendment challenge. That the beef tax is very similar to the citrus box tax-but apparently dissimilar to the mushroom tax-is viewed in some quarters as an indication that the Supreme Court will ultimately decide in favor of the citrus box tax.
As you may know, Texas growers pay an "assessment" on fresh fruit that supports TexaSweet, as well as an "assessment" on total production that funds research projects and the citrus budwood certification program.
TEMPORARY BAN ON SOUTH AFRICAN CITRUS-
About mid-May, California officials discovered live larvae of the false codling moth in shipments of Clementine tangerines arriving at California border check stations from South Africa. Both California and Arizona immediately instituted a temporary ban on South African citrus imports.
From those events, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services initiated a "stop-sale and hold" order on all South African Clementines in wholesale and retail markets in Florida. Subsequent inspections of the fruit did not turn up any live larvae, but 12 dead larvae were discovered. As a consequence, all fruit in the temporary ban must be either destroyed or shipped out of Florida.
The USDA moved fairly quickly in concert with South African officials to change the protocol under which fruit can enter the US, since the previous treatment protocol was apparently inadequate to protect US interests-and not just citrus interests. The previous protocol called for a 22-day cold treatment at 31 degrees prior to arrival in the US. The new protocol requires a 3-day pre-chilling holding period in South Africa, followed by 24 days in the cold treatment prior to arrival.
CITRUS CANKER STRIKES AGAIN-
As the Florida industry continues to struggle with detection and eradication of citrus canker in landscape and orchard trees in the wake of apparently widespread dissemination caused by the hurricanes last year, a heretofore untouched part of the industry just received a major setback. Some 36 grapefruit trees in research plantings at the Indian River Agricultural Research and Education Center at Fort Pierce were recently identified as being infected. Under protocol, the entire 105 acres of research orchards at the Center will be destroyed and replanting will be delayed for two years.
While almost everyone in the citrus industry worldwide knows about the Citrus Research and Education Center at Lake Alfred, the Indian River Center is somewhat less well known. It is the center of citrus research for the so-called Indian River District of Florida, concentrating on practices and problems unique to the area as opposed to the entire Florida industry.
The loss of the experimental groves and the research projects that were currently underway there is not the end of the world, but it is no small matter that could take up to a decade to recover. Too, for those researchers whose experimental plots will be destroyed-but who must still "publish or perish" for promotion and tenure within the University of Florida system-the loss is especially tough.
Although I was at Camp Perry last week teaching the requirements for the Archery Merit Badge to Boy Scouts-and if you think it has been hot, try camping out at Camp Perry for a week during the summer-I tried to keep abreast of the water situation, especially as related to the June 30 date by which Mexico intended to make another substantial dent in its overall water debt. According to one source, the overall debt is now about 145,000 acre feet, which suggests that an in-storage transfer of ownership did occur, though I haven't had time today to pursue the details. In addition, Sunday's Valley Morning Star reported the US share of waters in storage to have gone back up to just under 100 percent of conservation level, while Mexico's share reportedly declined to about 33 percent.
Despite the continued scarcity of rainfall, either in the Valley or in the watersheds, it is the time of year when irrigation demand for agriculture has abated considerably, though landscape demand is unchecked. Sorghum harvest is nearing completion, and corn harvest is in full swing, so those acreages have dropped out of the irrigation picture. Cotton is fast approaching defoliation, but some fields may require another irrigation. Sugar cane irrigation normally continues until about Labor Day, and citrus, of course, will continue as needed.
The next big cycle of irrigation will occur later this month and next as vegetable fields (and some agronomic crops fields) are pre-watered preparatory to planting for fall/winter harvest. Nonetheless, we are fast approaching the time when afternoon thunderstorms normally provide some relief locally, and the fall rainy season is just around the corner. Hopefully, both will be on schedule and will not only alleviate the demand, but also increase the supply in storage.
Having been out-of-pocket for so long, I checked the current pest situation with Dr. Vic French at the Citrus Center for this information. While Vic has also been out recently, his technicians have continued to monitor the pest situation across the Valley.
Citrus rust mites have apparently "heard" that it may rain one of these days, and Vic reports that populations are beginning to pick up in area groves. Check your groves carefully and be ready to spray in the near future. While it may not be available in time for use in the next couple of weeks, Vic indicated that Envidor, a miticide from Bayer that has been very promising in his trials, has just been approved and that some supply may be available later this month-though it is likely that Bayer will have a grower meeting to introduce it and its recommended usage.
Planthoppers have been detected in the new flush in some groves, especially in young trees, with attendant heavy honeydew and sooty mold. I have noted a couple of groves with heavy sooty mold, but have not found any causal insect-which leads me to suspect that the flatid planthopper had already been there and gone.
Vic also indicated one grove in the mid-Valley with a high population of wooly whitefly, with attendant heavy honeydew and sooty mold. He also mentioned that emerging populations of citrus black scale could also be causing heavy sooty mold.
In any case, it is the first of July, and therefore time to begin thinking seriously about the control of mites, scales and greasy spot, among other pests that can occasionally pop up at this time of year. Fortunately, some good miticides and fungicides are available to choose from-but scalicides are a bit more limited in selection.
As usual, I prefer oil in the summer spray to control existing scales (especially armored scales such as California red, Florida red, and chaff, but also for the soft scales such as black and cottony cushion). Oil also provides spreader/sticker service for other materials, and provides additional control of other insects, mites and greasy spot. Given the presence of scattered clouds during application, there shouldn't be a problem with oil sprays-even in the near 100-degree days we are having-so long as all other recommendations regarding oil use are followed.
JULIAN W. SAULS, Ph.D.
Professor & Extension Horticulturist
2401 East Highway 83
Weslaco TX 78596
THE INFORMATION GIVEN HEREIN IS FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY. REFERENCE TO COMMERCIAL PRODUCTS OR TRADE NAMES IS MADE WITH THE UNDERSTANDING THAT NO DISCRIMINATION IS INTENDED AND NO ENDORSEMENT BY THE COOPERATIVE EXTENSION SERVICE IS IMPLIED.