Citrus canker disease travels from Florida to Brownsville in car trunk

Local News

HARLINGEN, Texas (KVEO) – The Rio Grande Valley citrus industry is facing another threat as a dangerous citrus disease has made its way from Florida to Brownsville in the back of a trunk.

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The Texas Department of Agriculture is warning growers about a new bacteria called Citrus Canker Disease.

“There is an Asiatic strain and a Wellington strain. The Asiatic strain has only been found in Houston so far, and it will virtually attack all forms of citrus. The Wellington strain is what we found here, and it’s only on lime trees,”  said Dale Murden, president of Texas Citrus Mutual.

The bacteria is an airborne disease and was brought to the region from a citrus tree in the trunk.

“They pin-pointed it back to the exact individual, and the exact car trunk ‘I got it from my brother in law in Florida’,” said Murden.

The disease can cause leaves to fall off trees, damaging and even killing fruit from trees.

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A small region of citrus trees in Cameron County is under quarantine, experts said that the disease can be manageable but will come at a cost.

Tina Martin, a local grower said that she is concerned.

“When something like this happens, it is scary. It’s scary when anyone brings a virus or a bug. Anything that can affect our trees, because they do take a while to grow, and when it starts spreading, you can lose an entire grove,” said Martin.

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Last week, TDA updated new quarantine regulations to fight against the disease. For Valley citrus growers, it could potentially be another setback.

“It’s always something. It seems like we started with drought, then we had Hurricane Hanna, then we had the freeze, now we’re back to severe drought and the pandemic is still here,”  said Murden.

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