The Status of Citrus Canker in Georgia

Josh McGillDiseases, Georgia

Citrus canker was found for the first time in Georgia this past season. Unfortunately, it may be here to stay.

citrus canker

Jonathan Oliver, University of Georgia (UGA) assistant professor and small fruits pathologist, talked about the disease during a citrus meeting in Valdosta, Georgia, on Aug. 9. He emphasized that Georgia producers may have to learn to live with the disease from year to year, much like what Florida growers have been forced to do.

“It ended up being found in three locations, two in Decatur County and one in Bulloch County. In two of those cases, it was a commercial planting. In one case, it was trees that somebody had picked up from one of these unregulated roadside markets where they brought in a couple of trees from North Florida,” Oliver said. “We’re probably going to have to live with canker. If you’re growing citrus in those areas, be aware that canker may be present in those areas and be on the lookout for it.”

According to Oliver, Florida gave up citrus canker eradication efforts 15 or 20 years ago, and now growers must manage the disease. He fears that will end up being the case in Georgia over time.

Canker disease can spread very easily. Unlike citrus greening, which needs to be vectored by the Asian citrus psyllid, canker can spread by air or water. According to the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, symptoms can appear on the fruit, leaves and twigs. Small, round blister-like lesions with water-soaked margins and yellow halos can appear on both sides of a leaf. Heavy infections can lead to defoliation. Fruit drop can also occur.

University of Georgia Extension reminds citrus growers about the importance of purchasing certified trees.

“Growers and homeowners bringing trees into Georgia should make sure that they’re certified trees. Certified means that they’re produced in such a way to minimize the chances that they’re going to have these kinds of pathogens on them like greening and canker,” Oliver said. “It’s really important to use a nursery that is producing plants in a certified way. There are certified citrus nurseries now in Georgia, but you can also purchase from nursery sources out of the state if they’re certified trees.”

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Clint Thompson

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