Fight Continues Against Citrus Greening Disease
With the introduction of the Black Sigatoka Disease in Dominica taking the front burner in the eradication efforts, one senior forestry official is of the view that this same approach is needed for the overshadowed but deadly Citrus Greening Disease.
Mr. Joseph Blanford Coordinator of the Citrus Certification Programme says in an effort to deal with the disease, a Citrus Certification Programme was formulated back in 2007.
He said this was done as they noticed back in 1997 limes in the Soufriere catchment area were dieing, and they had no idea at the time why this was so because of the rapid nature of the disease.
However upon research and tests that were carried out, it was discovered that the culprit was the Citrus Tristeza Virus.
Mr. Blanford said during their investigations it was noticed that the disease with time spread to other areas of Dominica.
He said since the insect does not fly they live in a symbiotic relationship with black ants, which moves the insect from the lower to other parts of the plant.
The Citrus Coordinator pointed out that most of Dominica’s citrus was budded on the sour orange which is used as the root stock, since the sour orange has adapted to a number of diseases and insects, fungus and bacteria.
However this universal root stock for limes, oranges, and tangerines among others is very prone to the Citrus Tristeza Virus, and as a result all fruits budded on the sour orange will eventually die.
He pointed out that in the fight against this disease they have received assistance from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), to assist in the consultancy work in getting the Consultants to look at the disease.
The Consultants work included observing the spread, the strains whether viral or mild and in addition to assistance from Trinidad, Cuban and Venezuelan Governments to develop the Citrus Certification Programme.
The Citrus Certification Programme comprises of three aspects which are; sanitation which ensure all tools or items used in the production of the plants are thoroughly cleaned to prevent the spread of the virus.
There is also the quarantine aspect all the diseases are indexed to know all of the symptoms and where they are located in Dominica, and test during the production stage to make sure the disease is not replicated.
The propagation aspect deals with producing of the planting material.
Mr. Blanford pointed out that the public should refrain from growing sweet lime hedges as it is the preferred host of the vector Asian Citrus Psyllid (ACP), since the sweet lime has a constant young flush so there is always food for the vector to feed and replicate.
Some information the public should also follow to prevent the spread of this disease are; buy only certified plants, look out for the vector and maintain good cultural practices on farms.
Also do not remove any plants or planting material from infected areas, and if the disease is confirmed in your area do not take any action other than calling an Extension Officer who has to destroy the plants with extreme caution.
Persons can contact the Botanical Gardens on telephone number 266-3820 or 266-3803 if and signs of the disease is spotted.