Citrus canker is a bacterial disease of citrus trees. The first detection of the disease in Louisiana was in June of 2014 at City Park in New Orleans.

The Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry is teaming up with the LSU AgCenter to fight a disease that affects citrus trees in the state. The goal of the partnership is to identify the citrus canker tolerant satsuma cultivators.

Citrus canker is a bacterial disease of citrus trees. The first detection of the disease in Louisiana was in June of 2014 at City Park in New Orleans. LDAF has closely monitored the disease since its initial detection. LDAF, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the LSU AgCenter have worked to mitigate spread of the disease. The LSU AgCenter’s Plant Diagnostic Center, under the supervision of Dr. Raj Singh, processed 292 citrus trees from 2014 to 2016 as part of the citrus cooperative agriculture pest survey conducted by LDAF.

"Data collected from these samples showed that Louisiana satsuma cultivars are tolerant to citrus canker disease," Singh said. "Together, with the LDAF, we hope to identify the specific satsuma cultivars in an effort to enhance Louisiana's citrus industry."

Citrus was grown on 832 acres in Louisiana, according to the LSU AgCenter Summary. Citrus production and harvesting of fruit occurred on 283 acres of navels, 521 acres of satsumas and 28 acres of other types of citrus (lemons, grapefruit and kumquats, among others). Citrus generated a total farm gate value of $6.1 million.

Healthy satsuma trees from different cultivators will be located in south Louisiana at five known citrus canker locations for two years. Disease incidence and severity data will be collected to determine the satsuma susceptibility to citrus canker.

"Citrus trees, especially satsumas, are grown commercially and are the backyard fruit tree of choice in south Louisiana," said LDAF Commissioner Dr. Mike Strain. "We hope this project will ensure that this tradition will carry on for many generations to come."

The disease is spread by wind driven rain and causes lesions on the leaves, stems, and fruit. The fruit is still edible and not harmful to humans. The study and mitigation of this disease are funded through a USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant Program.

For more information on the project or citrus canker disease, visit ldaf.la.gov or lsuagcenter.com.

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