The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has found laurel wilt disease in a commercial avocado grove north of Homestead.
They found one infected tree, but not the redbay ambrosia beetle that transports the fungus, in a grove southwest of Miami, said Denise Feiber, the agency’s public information director.
Feiber said research shows the beetle tends to prefer the red bay and swamp bay trees over avocado trees.
“We haven’t found the beetle in the commercial areas yet,” she said. “We don’t know if there’s a population of them there or not or how it got into the tree. If they’re there, there’s not a large population exhibiting itself.
“That’s another curiosity of the pest and disease complex that’s a challenge to the scientists and the industry,” Feiber said.
The department continues surveying and trapping efforts and research into eradicating the pest.
The agency is working with federal agriculture officials, university researchers and industry leaders to determine best management practices to reduce the affect of the beetle and disease, according to a news release.
Though the disease threatens avocado tree health, it doesn’t affect fruit quality, Feiber said.
“The find of laurel wilt in a commercial avocado grove is a major concern,” Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam said in a news release. “Unaddressed, the disease can spread quickly, threatening the health of South Florida’s commercial avocado industry. We’re working with our partners and the industry to diagnose other trees in proximity to the finding and mitigate the spread of the disease.”
Earlier discoveries showed the presence of the disease on three swamp bay trees in south Miami-Dade County, about 7.5 miles north of the state’s commercial avocado production region.