Citrus greening disease is caused by the CLas bacterium, which is spread by the Asian citrus psyllid. It is the most serious threat to citrus production worldwide. ( Courtesy Texas A&M Agrilife Research )

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is expanding the area quarantined for citrus greening in Texas, according to a news release. The release said the USDA is adding all of Brazoria, Galveston, and Jim Hogg Counties in Texas. The agency is taking this action because of citrus greening detections in plant tissue samples collected in multiple locations in Texas, according to the release. 

Dale Murden, president of Texas Citrus Mutual, said the quarantine has been expanded two counties north of the citrus zone.

In general, Murden said Texas citrus growers are living with citrus greening, also called huanglongbing or HLB, and attempting to keep psyllid populations down and maintain tree health to the maximum degree possible. 

So far, the disease hasn’t had a huge impact on Texas citrus production, Murden said. Fresh movement is up so far this year, and overall volume of citrus also increased last season. 

Growers are employing best management practices to maintain tree health, even though the disease is present in commercial growing areas.

“Our growers took a page out of Florida’s book and we (are) trying to keep those Asian citrus psyllid populations as low as we can,” he said, noting coordinated spray efforts in citrus areas. Growers also have been feeding tree roots with nutritional solutions to keep citrus trees healthy. 

“We’re just trying to survive the storm until some of these scientists can either find a cure or resistant trees,” he said. “The name of the game is just staying in the game.”

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