The New York Times ran a rather technical article this week about a disease that is sending shivers down the spines of citrus growers in Florida and California - citrus greening. The disease is endemic in Florida. California growers are nervously watching the border with Mexico, where a pest that transmits citrus greening has already been found. That development was covered by the Los Angeles Times in July, as mentioned in this blog post.
This week's article, focused on Florida, included some dire predictions:
On concerns over solving the problem by genetically modifying citrus for resistance, Jude W. Grosser of the University of Florida said, "It’ll probably come down to the point where people have to decide whether they want orange juice or not.”
A Florida grower was quoted as saying, “Scientists have 10 years at the most to find a solution, or there’s not going to be a citrus industry in Florida.”
UC scientists are among those looking for solutions to managing the disease. The article said Abhaya Dandekar of UC Davis is working on an electronic nose to identify volatile organic compounds produced by infected trees.
UC citrus entomologist Beth Grafton-Cardwell also has her finger on the pulse of citrus greening. She is the author of an ANR publication about Asian Citrus Psyllid, which includes a lengthy section on citrus greening.