VOL. 22, NO. 7
IN THIS ISSUE:
This is a short newsletter, in part because not a whole lot is happening and in part because I am writing this while helping to oversee a bunch of Boy Scouts at Lost Pines Scout Camp near Bastrop.
GREENING IN NEW ORLEANS
WEATHER AND RAIN
RIO QUEEN FIRE
Greening in New Orleans—
Within a matter of a few days after identifying Asian citrus psyllid in New Orleans, intensive surveys by Louisiana and federal officials discovered the psyllid in four parishes (counties) in the New Orleans area, including Plaquemines Parish where much of Louisiana’s commercial citrus is produced. A quarantine for psyllid was instituted immediately.
Unfortunately, samples from a single lime tree in a dooryard in New Orleans tested positive for Asian citrus greening, which triggered further and intensive surveying for the disease. Further, we all know that greening can go undetected in infected trees for a couple of years or more, and that positive tests are difficult to obtain until the tree begins to exhibit early symptoms of the disease.
Louisiana’s citrus industry is still recovering from the ravages of Hurricane Katrina, so the occurrence of greening is not at all welcome news. While the industry there is small in terms of total citrus acreage, it is nonetheless quite important economically to the area. In addition, the area produces quite a large number of nursery trees that are distributed throughout the southern parishes.
For Texas, we have long looked to Louisiana and the southeastern Texas counties as a kind of buffer between us and the devastating occurrence of greening in Florida. Louisiana had been free of the pysllid vector until the discovery in New Orleans.
It is to be hoped that officials can suppress psyllid populations sufficiently to stave off the spread of greening, though I know that they would like to eradicate the insect entirely. All we can do is wish them the best in this effort.
Weather and Rain—
June was not much different from prior months in terms of overall weather—it continued hot and dry, and the only rain for the most part was neither very much nor very widespread. Obviously, some showers occurred in areas, but with few exceptions, the amounts did little to attenuate the necessity for irrigation.
Generally, grain harvest is progressing nicely in these conditions, and corn is soon to follow. When you get away from the irrigated area into dryland, especially the Coastal Bend, the effects of inadequate rain on crops are very conspicuous.
Rio Queen Fire—
We were dismayed to learn of the devastating fire that hit the Rio Queen packinghouse and offices during renovation work last month. The best estimates are that the facility will be rebuilt, but the time frame of re-construction is such that there is virtually no way that the facility can be back up and running in time for the startup of the new season in late September or October. Even with Rio Queen’s other packing facilities, they just won’t have the early season capacity for their normal volume of fruit.
A couple of other packinghouses have offered to help out in any way they can, and it is believed that with their assistance, Rio Queen will be able to meet its commitments in terms of pick, pack and sale of their growers’ fruit.
Current Grove Conditions—
Obviously, the weather is dictating continued attention to irrigation, but growers cannot be lulled by the hopes that dry weather will lower pest populations sufficiently to avoid the need for pest control operations. As we move into July, scales have pretty much advanced from the crawler stage to adulthood. You could have knocked them out with standard scalicides during the crawler stage, but once they lose their legs and secrete the waxy covering over their bodies, the only way to kill them is with oil sprays, which actually smother the insect.
I have not heard of significant increases in citrus rust mite populations, but that doesn’t mean that populations are not nearing damaging levels in groves. Vigilance is the key to being able to take corrective action before economic damage occurs.
In terms of the crop volume for the coming season, I have been hearing all sorts of guesses—from less fruit than last year to more fruit than last year. In terms of the whole industry, this season should be a bit of an up year, as the long term trend has been up-down-up-down. Two years ago was an up year, last was a down year, so this should be an up year.
The problem with using the past to predict the future is that the present doesn’t always fall into line, so growers and packers are anxiously checking groves and trying to decide what the crop will be like.
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.
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