Stem Pitting Could Develop in Florida Citrus

Ernie NeffDiseases

stem pitting

Citrus tristeza virus (CTV) stem pitting, which causes severe problems in Asia and other places, could develop in Florida, according to plant pathologist Amit Levy. The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researcher at the Citrus Research and Education Center discussed the disease at this year’s virtual Citrus Expo.

Noting that “early detection is essential,” Levy said it’s important for growers and others in the industry to know about the disease before it spreads to Florida.

Stem pitting results in pits in the wood under depressed areas of tree bark, Levy reported. It is often associated with severe tree stunting “and considerably reduced fruit production,” he stated.

A CTV stem pitting isolate is present in Florida, but not a severe isolate. The disease doesn’t kill the tree, but reduces fruit size as well as yield.

CTV is transmitted by the brown citrus aphid. Levy said some in Florida assume sprays used against Asian citrus psyllids eradicated the brown citrus aphid in the Sunshine State, although that isn’t known for sure. But he added that “all aphids are capable of periodic outbreaks when conditions are right.”

Levy urged growers who suspect they’ve seen stem pitting in Florida to contact him or the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Division of Plant Industry.

The most important control for stem pitting “is to keep those stem pitting isolates out of Florida,” Levy said. Some places use mild strain cross protection for control; trees are infected with mild strains of CTV to protect against more severe isolates. Control of the brown citrus aphid that spreads CTV is another way to manage the disease.

See Levy’s full presentation here. All Citrus Expo presentations and the CEUs that can be earned by watching them will remain available through the end of 2020.

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About the Author

Ernie Neff

Senior Correspondent at Large