UPDATED: Tests confirm Florida avocado disease find

08/03/2009 09:15:34 AM
Doug Ohlemeier

(UPDATED COVERAGE, AUG. 3)  Florida officials have confirmed a destructive avocado disease has been found in an avocado sample taken from a south Florida commercial grove.

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Tallahassee, reports laboratory tests show the disease sample found in a tree in a commercial grove north of Homestead, Fla., contains the laurel wilt fungus.

Courtesy University of Florida
 
Lab tests confirm laurel wilt fungus, spread by the redbay ambrosia beetle, is in a Homestead, Fla.-area commercial avocado grove.

The disease, which is spread by the tiny redbay ambrosia beetle, can destroy half the state’s avocado crop.

The agency reports four other trees from three avocado growers have the disease symptoms.

Those samples, however, have not been confirmed.

"This find is alarming for the avocado industry," Florida Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson said in a news release.  

"Since laurel wilt disease was first found in north Florida, the department has been working cooperatively with other agriculture agencies to track the spread of this disease and beetle, and retard artificial movement. Despite these efforts, this unwanted pest/disease complex has spread rapidly via redbay trees within Florida."
 
State officials have started a multi-agency cooperative systematic survey for the beetle and disease in Miami-Dade County to determine the spread of the disease.



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