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TROPICAL STORM CHRIS
Tropical Storm Chris formed rather quickly out in the Atlantic. As of Tuesday morning, August 1, the storm was centered at 17.3N and 60.3W, with maximum sustained winds just barely above tropical storm status at 40 mph. On the current track of WNW at 10 mph, TS Chris's center line would put it into the very southern tip of Florida early Monday morning.
Presently, forecasters expect TS Chris to remain more or less on track without strengthening through the next several days. Forecast models are generally calling for the storm to dissipate before the weekend, as conditions in its probable path do not favor intensification.
Alabama's Agriculture Commissioner, Ron Sparks, has indicated that Alabama
does not intend to honor the USDA's quarantine that would exclude Florida
fresh citrus from Alabama and other citrus-producing states and territories.
Alabama is considered a citrus-producing state because of the existence
of a small mandarin industry (mostly satsumas and tangerines) in a few
southern counties, especially along the Gulf Coast.
Mr. Sparks' assessment of the risk is not very comforting, given that some Alabama nurseries have been known to deliver citrus trees into east Texas in recent years-despite the existence of quarantines that prohibit the entry of citrus plant materials from other states into Texas.
FEDERAL REGISTER CANKER RULES-
In the Federal Register, Vol. 71, No. 147, pp. 43345-43352, August 1, 2006, USDA-APHIS has published the Interim Rule and Request for Comments regarding Citrus Canker and Quarantine of the State of Florida. Comments will be accepted until October 2, 2006. You can comment on-line at http://www.regulations.gov. In "Search Regulations and Federal Actions", select "Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service", click on "Submit" and then in the Docket ID column, select APHIS-2006-0144. There you can view supporting materials, the comments already submitted by others and you can add your comments.
Basically, it has been determined that about 75 percent of the commercial citrus in Florida is within five miles of a canker detection, which is the basis for the termination of the eradication effort. Essentially, the entire state of Florida is now listed as a quarantine area for citrus canker.
Regulated (meaning quarantined) fruit may be moved interstate, except to citrus-producing states, if all of the specified conditions are met. Those conditions include canker inspections of every tree no more than 30 days before harvest and the grove thus being found to be free of citrus canker. In the case of limes, re-inspection has to be every 120 days or less thereafter as long as harvest continues.
Regulated fruit will be accompanied by a limited permit and the boxes and other containers in which it is packaged must be clearly marked with the statemen, "Not for distribution in AZ, CA, HI, LA, TX, and American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and Virgin Islands of the United States".
You will note that Alabama is not one of the states listed, so I presume that the feds decided to let Alabama go its own way with regard to citrus canker.
Drawdown of the reservoirs has pretty much continued through the summer with little letup. The current levels are approximately 75 percent of Conservation Capacity for the US, about 33 percent of Conservation Capacity for Mexico.
Some scattered rains over south Texas and the Valley have mostly been of little consequence, as the durations and amounts have usually been insufficient to replenish soil moisture or to preclude the need for irrigation.
Tropical storm season is upon us, so every day brings the next cycle of rains one day closer.
TEXAS PRODUCE CONVENTION-
The annual Texas Produce Convention and Trade Show will be held in San Antonio on August 10-12. The headquarters hotel is Crowne Plaza Riverwalk. The major discussion events are all day Friday and Saturday morning. Thursday's main event is the Texas Produce Open Golf Tournament and the Opening Reception (at Pat O'Brien's). The Expo is Friday morning and late afternoon.
Because of the timing and because a number of us will be at the Produce Convention, there will be a non-conference meeting on Thursday afternoon to discuss citrus canker and citrus greening issues. This program will include Texas Citrus Mutual, USDA-APHIS-PPQ, Texas Department of Agriculture, Texas A&M University System agencies and others.
The absence of rain in many groves has continued to suppress pest populations, but you can?t rely on that to last. Citrus rust mites can quickly increase to economically damaging levels. Scouting is essential, but I am inclined to roll out the sprayers because I may be missing something. Too, if the rains pick up towards the end of the month, it could quickly become too wet and stay that way too long to get sprayers into the grove.
Irrigation is still ongoing and though the forecasters continue to list a chance for a shower or two, this is not yet the time of year when we expect to get significant, widespread rains. I have not seen navels that are splitting as yet, but check again after the next rain or irrigation-it has been hot, so splitting is assured as soon as soil moisture levels peak at field capacity.
JULIAN W. SAULS, Ph.D.
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