It has been eight years since the Asian citrus psyllid was first detected in Texas.
So far no evidence of citrus greening disease (huanglongbing) has been detected in Texas, but the industry remains vigilant.
Millions of trees have been destroyed in Florida in efforts to stop the disease from spreading, but the Texas citrus industry, and its close concentration and smaller tree population, likely would not survive greening intact, said John McClung, president of the Mission-based Texas Produce Association.
“It has become pretty clear that these diseases, particularly greening, are top priorities,” he said.
“The size of our area and the concentration of trees make it difficult, and greening’s coming at us from both the east and the south, to some extent.”
Texas Citrus Mutual, Mission, is hosting a conference Nov. 15-18 at the McAllen Convention Center to update the industry on the latest greening research efforts.
“There have been a number of new developments on research for citrus greening,” said Ray Prewett, president of Texas Citrus Mutual.
“That was the basic motivation behind doing all of this. The response to it has been really good. We have some great scientists coming to share the latest.”
Prewett said he expects a “couple hundred” to attend the event, which also features research about potato zebra chip.
A late commitment to the conference was George Bruening, of the University of California-Davis, also a member of the National Academy of Sciences. Bruening has done extensive work for the Florida citrus industry on setting up research programs for citrus greening, Prewett said.
While the focus of the meeting is heavy on science, Prewett said the program also is valuable for the grower-shipper community.
“It’s tailor-made to be of interest for growers,” he said.
A follow-up of the citrus greening task force made up of representatives of a coalition from Belize, Mexico, and the U.S. also plans to meet in conjunction with the conference.
The meeting is a follow-up of the group’s first meeting in Monterrey, Mexico, held Sept. 22-23.