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Pathogens put squeeze on Florida citrus industry

Government seeks new solutions after giving up on eradication of bacterial disease

Anne Harding
State and government officials are gearing up to release a Citrus Health Response Plan (CHRP) for Florida, after calling a halt to efforts to eradicate the bacterial disease citrus canker. Meanwhile, Florida's citrus growers are facing a new, potentially more devastating threat -- a bacterium called citrus greening, which has wiped out the citrus industry in many parts of Asia.After 2005's hurricane Wilma, which helped transmit citrus canker, officials estimated that it would be necessary to rip out roughly a third of Florida's citrus-growing acreage to continue with eradication efforts, which require removing all trees within 1,900 feet of an infected tree. The cost: $1.7 billion. Eradication "just wasn't practical or feasible any longer," Philip Berger, national science program leader at the USDA's Center For Plant Health Science and Technology, told The Scientist.Now, Florida farmers are dealing with another pathogen, citrus greening. Also known...

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