Citrus canker has apparently moved from Cape Coral into North Fort Myers. The microscopic bacterial disease is considered a grave threat to Florida’s more than $9 billion citrus industry. Spokesman for the state’s citrus canker eradication program - Mark Fagan – says the find isn’t a surprise. He characterizes it as “a jump across the street.”
“Citrus canker did cross the street into North Fort Myers at the Tamiami Village Mobile Home Community…and that’s the only place we’ve found it so far in NFM…and we really don’t expect to find it, at least widely spread, in this area.”
Fagan says the most likely scenario is that Hurricane Charley’s winds blew it from the Cape to North Fort Myers. Scientists believe citrus canker arrived in Florida in the early to mid 90s…most likely by man—into the Miami area from South America. It’s now around the state…mostly in the east and southeast…but it’s also turned up in Sarasota, Charlotte, Lee and Collier Counties. Fagan says storms like Charley make his agency’s job harder …but delays in eradication efforts allowed it to be spread by MAN.
“The series of court challenges that began back in the Fall of 2000 and really didn’t conclude until February of 2004…is what allowed the disease to spread from Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach County elsewhere around the state. All the introductions elsewhere around the state were introductions or movement by man, it wasn’t nature.”
That court decision allows canker eradication crews to destroy all infected trees, and those within 19-hundred feet. Since Hurricane Charley – crews have found more than a million acres of citrus trees that had to be destroyed because of infection—or proximity to it. Symptoms of canker appear on the leaves of citrus trees… and include raised lesions with a yellowish halo on both sides.
Tuesday, 01 March 2005 00:00