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The Incurable Bacterial Infection From China: Huanglongbing

Updated on January 13, 2014
Infected areas
Infected areas
The bug
The bug
The bacteria
The bacteria

The Chinese word for the incurable bacterial disease is a mouth full for any American, Huanglongbing (Yellow Dragon Disease). Luckily, for humans, it does not pose a threat to health so far, but it is very deadly to what we all like- oranges and orange juice. It first arrive in the US in the Florida orange groves in 1998, within two years, it was in 31 other countries! The bacteria was first discovered in 2005 near Miami.

You seem there are two parts to this deadly bacteria. Part one was discovered in 1998, when tiny Asian citrus psyllids were discovered on Florida orange trees. At the time, their sinister ability to spread the Yellow Dragon Bacteria, was not known. In 2005, researchers discovered the bacteria the bugs spread.

The disease is what cancer is to humans-a killer, when the roots become deformed and the oranges are no bigger than ping-pong balls and green. The tiny bugs transmit the disease much like mosquitoes transfer malaria.

Florida provides 80% of America's orange juice and oranges. The bacteria and bugs have spread to many other US states known to have orange groves, such as, California, Georgia and others. Other key countries that provide oranges to the US, such as Mexico, Brazil, Latin America, have also been devastated.

The situation is so serious that $80 million have been invested and 500 scientists have been consulted to find a cure, so far, it is still unknown how to remove or destroy the killer bacteria from the tree. So many trees have been infected that just killing the bugs is not a remedy. So serious is the situation in Florida, that it is predicted that if a cure is not found, the $9 billion industry there will be destroyed within 10 years.

In just two groves in southern Florida, 90,000 acres of orange trees had to be destroyed. Just to spray chemicals to wipe out the tiny bug is putting many farmers out of business @ $1800 an acre! The disease in 2012, cost Florida $4.6 billion and 8000 jobs and 135,000 acres abandoned from a total of 500,000.

While spraying the bug is effective, it is so only for 30-45 days a most, then it comes right back unless spraying continues. This makes it hard for the farmers to stay financially in the black at $1800 and acre.

Early symptoms of yellowing may appear on a single shoot or branch. The yellowing usually spreads throughout the tree over a year, especially on young trees, and affected trees may show twig die back, causing the productivity to decline within a few years. Fruit are often few in number, small, may be lopsided with a curved central core, and fail to color properly, The first appeared in California in 2008.

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