WUFT News

Updated: UF’s Plagued Citrus Trees Finally Removed

By and on September 17th, 2013

Updated, Oct. 10: The removal of 156 citrus trees from the University of Florida campus due to citrus greening disease finished around Sept. 27, said Janine Sikes, UF spokeswoman.

UF plans to replant trees in place of the lost ones, but they will not be citrus trees. There is no way to contain or prevent the spread of a contagious disease like citrus greening on a campus the size of UF’s in the future, Sikes said. 

Original story, Sept. 17: The University of Florida temporarily halted an initiative this week to remove about 150 citrus trees from campus, after a committee bypassed university approval.

UF Business Affairs must sign off on a plan before Physical Plant workers can continue removing trees, said Janine Sikes, UF spokeswoman.

On Wednesday, a committee decided removal was the only viable option left for the diseased trees.

The committee is made up of representatives from the Physical Plant Division, Horticultural Sciences Department, Department of Microbiology & Cell Science and the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

Kevin Folta, interim chair of the UF Horticultural Sciences Department, said taking action now is highly advised.

“There’s no question about it,” Folta said. “If a tree gets infected, it must be extracted from the plot to avoid spreading the disease.”

Last week, the committee discussed a possible spray method that would need to be done monthly in order to prolong the life of the trees, but the process was considered too costly for the Physical Plant Division’s budget. The cost would only be a small part of a much larger problem.

Greening has cost Florida’s economy an estimated $4.5 billion in lost revenues since 2006, along with just over 8,000 jobs, according to the most recent economic impacts report from IFAS researchers. That is half of Florida’s $9 billion citrus industry, the nation’s largest.

Most of the southern states of the U.S. have been infected and are under quarantine, including the country’s other big citrus-producing state, California, where it was detected in 2012, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The spray can only go so far, Folta said. The department has been using the spray monthly on its teaching orchards in order to keep the citrus trees that research is conducted on infection-free.

“It’s not a matter of if, but when,” Folta said. “There is no silver bullet.”

He said once a tree gets the disease, there is no saving it. The spray is used solely as a preventative measure.

There are some exceptions now in the breeding program of the horticultural sciences department.

“Some genetic strains can tolerate the infection better than others and a few have shown promise,” Folta said.

Donna Bloomfield, superintendent of grounds and landscaping at UF, said the Physical Plant Division already removed six to eight small citrus trees this past Friday outside the Reitz Union.

“I hope that there is a better way than taking them all out,” she said. “(I hope) we can save all of them if not most of them.”

The process to remove about 150 possibly infected citrus trees will take two to three weeks as long as there are no complications, Bloomfield said. There is no timetable at the moment for a final decision by the committee, but she hopes to send crews out by the end of the week.


This entry was posted in Environment and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.
 

More Stories in Environment

Kevlar gloves are used by Gainesville’s Northwest Seafood when filleting lionfish in order to protect against the venomous barbs.

If You Can’t Fight Them, Fry Them

Lionfish are being pushed to Florida menus following August regulation changes on the venomous invasive species’ importation. While dangerous to catch, they are easy to eat as conservation efforts try to save the reefs by increasing demand for the destructive fish.


lionfish

FWC Attempts to Reduce Lionfish Population

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is concerned with the growing population of lionfish, a destructive species of fish. The FWC hopes to start up new efforts to prevent the further spread of lionfish and work on extraction. Extraction [...]


Former governor Bob Graham (left), Jon Mills (center) and David Hart (right) from the Florida Chamber of Commerce discuss how Amendment 1 would affect Florida in front of an audience at Pugh Hall Sept. 4. Graham, a supporter of the amendment, said Florida should be viewed as a treasure to be protected instead of a “commodity,” while Hart said that passing this amendment could cause some serious implications for balancing the state budget.

Natural Resources Amendment Secures Environmental Funding But Raises Concerns

With almost one million signatures from Florida voters, Amendment 1 – also known as the Florida Land and Water Conservation Amendment – will appear on the Nov. 4 ballot, though not all parties are pleased by this development.


Signs like this one show residents of Hawthorne have serious concerns with Plum Creek Timber Company's plans for development in the area.

Hawthorne Residents Voice Concerns With Development Plans

Southeast Alachua County landowners discuss Plum Creek Timber Company’s proposal to develop parts of the city and express their concerns.


Citrus Greening

Saving Florida Orange Juice: The Search For A Cure For Citrus Greening – The Greening Series, Part 3

Nutrient supplements, root stock additives, genetic modification, heat therapies and a bacterial killer are just a few of the proposed solutions to what has been called the worst disease in history to hit Florida orange groves. Citrus greening, a bacterial [...]


Thank you for your support

WUFT depends on the support of our community — people like you — to help us continue to provide quality programming to North Central Florida.
Become a Sustainer
I want to support FM 89.1/NPR
I want to support Florida's 5/PBS
Donate a Vehicle
Day Sponsorship Payments
Underwriting Payments