The department also offers a toll-free report line for people to call if they suspect they might own an infected tree.
“People do call. They aren’t frequent, but when they do we can go out and check them or have them submit a sample to be evaluated,” Feiber said.
Growers are getting involved in the effort to stop the spread of the disease, from serving on advisory committees to training work crews to recognize the symptoms.
Charlie Caves, packinghouse manager for New Limeco LLC, Princeton, Fla., said the company has distributed laminated photos of what the disease does to a tree in order to ensure everyone in the grove is looking for those symptoms.
“The beetle hole is the size of the end of a paper clip, so it’s hard to try to find that,” Caves said.
The company also has trained workers in the proper way to take a sample for testing.
“You can’t do it by the leaves, roots, or bark. You have to hatchet past the bark to get a good sample in order for a lab to test it,” he said.
Caves said the company is committed to doing what they can to help control efforts.
“We’re taking it seriously.”
Feiber also reports positive grower support of efforts such as the Laurel Wilt Working Group, formed in 2009 when the disease first appeared in Florida.
The group meets every couple of months, as needed, to look at reports from researchers about various topics such as the ambrosia beetle, what types of chemicals might be effective, and if it’s economical to treat all the trees.
Crane is pleased with the support and reaction he’s seen from growers.
He meets with growers two to four times a month and with the Florida Avocado Administrative Committee monthly.
“I don’t hear panic or fear,” Crane said. “I hear concern and the desire to move forward and figure this out. We need to continue to keep working together to find solutions, and I’m very positive about that.”