VOL. 23, NO. 3
IN THIS ISSUE:
Dr. Mamadou Setamou of the TAMU-K Citrus Center noted that citrus rust mites were showing up on the new flush leaves of oranges a couple of weeks ago. As the new fruit appears, you can bet that they will abandon the leaves for the small fruit as quickly as they can get there.
Rainfall is still mostly lacking, despite a couple of good opportunities over the last couple of weeks. The need for good soil moisture will continue to be critical over the next three months as the trees try to set the crop and as the fruitlets undergo rapid cell division to set the stage for optimal fruit set and fruit size potential.
The Mid-Winter meeting of Texas Citrus Mutual is scheduled for March 26th at the Citrus Center in Weslaco. You'll have to check with Mutual a little later to get the latest information on the program, as I have not seen it yet.
GREENING RELATED TOPICS
February was not an idle month on the greening front, as there was a well-attended meeting at the Mutual offices to begin the process of developing the Texas website that will be devoted to greening. Preliminary designs should be coming soon from the developer.
There was also a near-standing-room-only crowd on hand at the Mutual offices, plus a number of individuals on conference call, to review the first draft of the ACP/HLB Task Force's Action Plan. Revisions are now underway and the final draft should be out soon.
Only a few people ever learn about the work of TDA, DPS, and SITC in trying to stop the entry of illegal items into the state, and it seems that their successes rarely get publicized. I believe that greater awareness of their successes would go a long way in letting both the general public and the nursery industry know that bringing restricted or quarantined items into Texas is illegal. To that end, I have asked to be informed of their actions so that I can pass it along to those who read this newsletter, as well as to others.
There have been a number of interceptions over the last year, ranging from the Kaffir lime leaves flown from Florida into Dallas and Amarillo (which had both ACP and HLB) to various shipments of citrus plant materials and other restricted items.
Most recently, Texas Department of Agriculture, Texas Department of Public Safety and SITC (Smuggling Interdiction and Trade Compliance) cooperated to operate a road inspection station near Houston. A load of unmanifested palm trees were intercepted and ordered to turn around and return to Florida. All well and good, but the driver had other ideas or other orders. Unaware that he was being followed by SITC, he turned off I-10 and took an alternate route back to the Houston area.
Before TDA and SITC officials caught up with him, the driver had unloaded the truck. To make a longer story short, the palms were located, there were no citrus plants in the load, and TDA seized and destroyed the illegal palms--queen, Chinese fan and pygmy date.
Hats off to all the agencies that worked on this operation.
CITRUS BUDWOOD PROGRAM
The Citrus Budwood Advisory Council met last week to consider program changes. A major item under consideration is that of adding more varieties to the "mandatory" list, meaning that trees of mandated varieties cannot be sold in the state without having been grown from certified sources, i.e., the Citrus Budwood Foundation.
A big hangup in mandating additional varieties has been the inability of the Foundation to produce adequate numbers of buds of some of those varieties to meet the nursery demand for them. Obviously, you can't really mandate the variety if you can't supply the desired number of buds.
One approach to resolving this issue is to allow nurseries to establish increase blocks of those trees from which they could supply their budding needs and alleviate some of the pressure on the Citrus Foundation's increase blocks. That approach is now being pursued. It is not just a matter of saying it's okay; there are certain protocols that must be developed and implemented.
Because of the ACP/HLB threats to the industry (to say nothing of tristeza, brown citrus aphid, citrus variegated chlorosis, citrus canker or other serious pests or diseases of citrus), and because of ongoing efforts to secure the necessary funding to enclose the Citrus Budwood Foundation blocks and increase blocks with insect-resistant screening, any new increase block that will be permitted by TDA will have to be in a dedicated insect-resistant structure. Naturally, any such increase block will be closely regulated and inspected.
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