USDA weighs shipping changes for citrus canker areas
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service says recent research has propelled it to consider amendments to citrus canker regulations to allow fruit from quarantined areas to be shipped to all U.S. states.
Two new publications, including one from the USDA, have provided new information on citrus canker. USDA analysis of the new research concludes that the disease is 'highly unlikely' to be spread by harvested fruit without citrus canker symptoms.
'Even harvested fruit with visible citrus canker symptoms was shown in the research not to spread the disease as long as the fruit is disinfected at the packinghouse using approved methods,' the agency said.
Under the proposal, each lot of harvested fruit will no longer need to be inspected at the packinghouse and found to be free of visible symptoms of citrus canker. Fruit will also no longer be prohibited from being shipped to commercial citrus-producing states.
However, APHIS will continue to require fruit moved interstate from a quarantined area to be treated with an approved disinfectant and be packed in a commercial packinghouse that operates under a compliance agreement.
Citrus canker is caused by a bacterium that affects citrus plants. The canker can cause defoliation and other serious damage to the leaves and twigs of susceptible plants. It can also cause lesions on the fruit of infected plants and premature fruit drop. In the United States, the disease is only known to exist in Florida.
The USDA said it will take public comments on the proposal through Aug. 31. For more details, read the Federal Registernotice.