It’s that time of year where citrus greening becomes an important topic of conversation. It is a great concern for us citrus growers in Florida, and it is a major concern for crops in general. At this point citrus greening has been blamed for killing crops across the country including more than 130,000 acres in Florida since 2005. We refer to this concern regularly, but what is this blight on our production of your favorite juice? Florida Citrus breaks in down in this article so we all have a more clear understanding.
What is citrus greening?
Citrus greening (also known as Huanglongbing or HLB) is a disease spread by an insect called the Asian citrus psyllid. The psyllid feeds on the stems and leaves of the trees, which infects the trees with bacteria that cause citrus greening. Greening impairs the tree’s ability to take in nourishment ultimately resulting in fewer and smaller fruit over time. Once a tree is infected, there is no cure.
Does greening affect the quality of the fruit? Is fruit from trees affected by citrus greening used in juice or sold in stores safe?
Yes, greening slows the flow of nutrients impairing the tree’s ability to properly mature, resulting in smaller and sour tasting fruit. That said, there is a very high standard for selecting high quality fruit and culling oranges to ensure that only those that are unaffected by greening are used for juice production and consumption as whole fruit.
How long has citrus greening been present in the Florida citrus groves?
Citrus greening was first confirmed in Florida in 2005.
Is citrus greening limited to Florida groves?
Citrus greening is a global threat to all citrus groves.
Beyond oranges, are other types of Florida citrus – grapefruit, lemons, limes – affected by citrus greening
Yes, they are equally threatened by citrus greening. Finding a solution is in the best interest of the citrus industry and consumers who love citrus fruit and beverages.
Has the cost of 100% orange juice increased as a result of citrus greening?
As demand for 100% orange juice outpaces supply and with growers paying more to care for their crops due to citrus greening, the price of 100% orange juice has increased. However, orange juice remains the top selling 100% fruit juice in the U.S.
What is the solution for citrus greening?
At this time, there is no solution to citrus greening. The industry is working with leading experts and research institutions to focus on four main areas of study: preventing the spread of HLB, reducing HLB in trees, sustaining tree health, maintaining fruit quality.
Why has it been so difficult to mitigate or cure citrus greening?
Scientists are studying the bacteria that cause citrus greening and are building a strong base of research to find the most effective and safe treatments to cure greening.