More than 27,000 acres of citrus are grown in the Rio Grande Valley, making a significant financial impact on the Texas economy. Not surprisingly, many Texans have developed an appetite for quality, native citrus and may want to purchase and plant citrus trees of their own.
Before doing so, consumers need to know about some simple requirements designed to protect Texas from plant diseases that have already devastated some citrus crops outside of the state.
By law, Texans are only allowed to purchase citrus plants that carry the “Produced in Texas” label. Texas law prohibits the importation of citrus trees from other states as a means of preventing whithout the entry of pests and diseases, such as citrus greening.
Although citrus greening has no effect on the safety of the citrus fruit itself, it is a devastating disease that bruises citrus fruit and eventually kills the trees. While the disease has not yet been detected in Texas, it has destroyed hundreds of thousands of acres of citrus
crops throughout the United States and Mexico. An insect called the Asian citrus pysllid transfers the disease from tree to tree. Once a plant becomes infected with the disease, there is no cure, and the plant will die.
In 2010, the Texas Department of Agriculture received federal funds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to step up inspections at citrus production nurseries and retail businesses. From August 2010 through 20 mg dosage October 2010, TDA conducted more than 350 inspections, resulting in 14 nurseries and retailers being forced to stop the sale of citrus plants due to the presence of the Asian citrus psyllid.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection also has stepped up inspections along the Texas-Mexico border to intercept plants before they enter the state. These efforts, coupled with the cooperation of consumers, will help ensure the future production of Texas’ $121 million citrus industry.