The U.S. Department of Agriculture has confirmed finding sweet orange scab in non-commercial production areas of Florida.

The USDA’s Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory in Beltsville, Md., made the confirmation in late December on a grapefruit sample collected from a tree in a Lakeland, Fla., area campground and from a bitter orange sample taken off a tree in residential area in Broward County near Weston, Fla., west of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.



On Jan. 10, a tangerine sample from a backyard in Sarasota County also tested positive.

Richard Kinney, executive vice president of Florida Citrus Packers Inc., Lakeland, said the common fungal disease isn’t an issue for fresh fruit.

“It’s mostly residential,” he said. “They have it in the other states except California. It’s mostly plant material they’re worried about, not fruit movement. I think we’re okay for the most part.”

Surveyors have discovered the scab, which is caused by the fungus Elsinoe astralis, in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi.

In December, USDA issued a rule allowing citrus from south Texas commercial groves to be shipped to citrus-producing states as long as the fruit had undergone approved packinghouse treatment.

Sweet orange scab differs from common orange scab that's widespread in Florida as Sweet orange scab affects only fruit, according to University of Florida researchers.

The fungus attacks sweet oranges and some tangerines.