Tests are confirming last week’s discovery of a killer avocado disease in a south Florida commercial avocado grove.

UPDATED: Florida avocado disease confirmed
                     Courtesy University of Florida

Lab tests confirm laurel wilt fungus, spread by the redbay ambrosia beetle, is in a Homestead, Fla.-area commercial avocado grove

The unofficial results follow industry rumors that earlier tests weren't accurate.

Alan Flinn, administrator of the Florida Avocado Administrative Committee, Homestead, said the industry learned the morning of Aug. 5 that the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Division of Plant Industry had confirmed that the sample had laurel wilt disease.

South Florida’s avocado industry experienced some confusion Aug. 3-4 when shippers, who didn’t want to speak on the record, said rumors circulated that the disease finding may not have been accurate.

“We heard the rumors also,” Flinn said. “The first test came out positive, while subsequent tests came out negative.”

On July 31, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services reported scientists confirmed finding laurel wilt disease in an avocado sample from Homestead.

Four other samples were being tested for the disease and the presence of redbay ambrosia beetles, which spread the fungus.

A Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services spokesman on Aug. 4 confirmed the doubts of the original finding and said additional testing has met with mixed results.

Industry officials have scheduled an emergency meeting for the evening of Aug. 5 to update the disease situation with growers, handlers, packers and shippers.