Product to treat new citrus tree insect soon to be available

James A. Vaughn, Benedict, Linda F.  |  8/27/2008 11:17:20 PM

News Release Distributed 08/27/08

An insecticide will be available soon for homeowners to use to treat their citrus trees for the Asian citrus psyllid, according to Alan Vaughn, LSU AgCenter extension agent in Plaquemines Parish.

“We’ve been told a product called Merit 2F will be available shortly,” Vaughn said. “Homeowners should be able to obtain it from their local garden centers.”

LSU AgCenter agents are getting calls from owners of citrus trees about the need to treat their trees for this insect, which has the potential to spread a deadly disease of citrus called greening disease.

Beginning the first week in September, weather permitting, Plaquemines Parish government officials will begin spraying the entire parish for the psyllid using a product available only in bulk, Vaughn said.

“Plaquemines Parish is the heart of the citrus industry in Louisiana,” Vaughn said. “It is worth more than $4 million in fruit production and more than $5 million of citrus nursery tree production. Backyard hobby citrus trees are found throughout the area and produce an abundance of more than 20 different varieties consumed by thousands of people.”

The Plaquemines Parish council funded the spraying in that parish only for $200,000, Vaughn said.

“They will be spraying only in the parish,” Vaughn said. “The parish government is to be commended for being proactive in trying to prevent the spread of this disease.”

The Asian citrus psyllid was first discovered in Louisiana in May. It has since been found in eight parishes – Jefferson, Lafourche, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Charles, St. James, St. Tammany and Terrebonne. Greening disease, which the psyllid has the potential to spread, has been identified only on one tree in Orleans Parish. That tree has been destroyed, Vaughn said.

“A quick response was needed,” Vaughn said. “And many agencies cooperated to help solve this problem.”

The cooperating agencies include the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and the LSU AgCenter.

More information on the Asian citrus psyllid is available from LSU AgCenter parish agents or on the LSU AgCenter Web site at www.lsuagcenter.com.

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Contact: Alan Vaughn at (504) 433-3664, or avaughn@agcenter.lsu.edu

Writer: Linda Foster Benedict at (225) 578-2937, or lbenedict@agcenter.lsu.edu

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