URGENT Citrus Canker Confirmed
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) _ State agriculture officials today confirmed the presence of the bacterial disease citrus canker in nine seedling samples from a nursery near Tampa.
Inspectors had suspected the highly contagious disease at the Hillsboro Wholesale Nurseries in Valrico during routine checks last month, but it wasn’t confirmed until this morning, said Linda Perry, spokeswoman for the state Department of Agricuture’s Division of Plant Industry in Gainesville, where the tests were done.
The discovery means all 652,000 citrus trees on the 18-acre nursery owned by Douglas Holmberg must be destroyed, since there is no cure for the crop- destroying disease, Ms. Perry said.
At least 300 plants at Holmberg’s other nursery, the 40-acre Pleasant View Nursery, located across from Hillsboro Wholesale Nurseries, also must be destroyed, Ms. Perry said. Plants from the infected nursery at one time had been transferred to Pleasant View, she explained.
In addition, Ms. Perry said, state and federal agriculture officials must study the nurseries’ records to determine where their seedlings were sold and destroy trees that were exposed to tainted stock.
″We understand that he has shipped quite a few plants in the last few months to retail outlets ... and groves,″ she said.
The disease was last detected Dec. 3. Millions of trees, with an estimated value of $9.4 million, already have been destroyed in Florida’s attempt to stop the outbreak.