Citrus Greening – A Very Serious Issue

July 30th, 2014 | Simcha Weinstein | Comments Off on Citrus Greening – A Very Serious Issue

orangesThe Organic Center has launched a major research effort to fight citrus greening. Citrus greening is one of the most serious citrus plant diseases in the world. Once a tree is infected, there is no cure. While the disease poses no threat to humans or animals, it has devastated millions of acres of citrus crops throughout the United States and abroad.

Named for its green, misshapen fruit, citrus greening disease has now killed millions of citrus plants in the southeastern United States and is threatening to move across the entire country, spread by a disease-infected insect – the Asian citrus psyllid. Infected trees produce fruits that are green and bitter, unsuitable for sale as fresh fruit or for juice. Most infected trees die within a few years. Citrus greening has been devastating the citrus industry on a massive scale and is now threatening the very existence of the organic citrus sector.

The deadly citrus greening disease spreads quickly. In the past ten years, citrus greening has wiped out 90,000 acres of citrus. The organic sector has taken the biggest hit because until now, most research on methods to control this devastating disease have focused on techniques not allowed in organic agriculture, such as toxic pesticide sprays linked with massive bee die-offs, and the use of genetically modified seed.

If no action is taken, citrus production is predicted to decrease by over 65% by the year 2020, with organic production taking the brunt of this devastation. Some scientists say the domestic organic citrus industry could disappear altogether.

The Organic Center is taking action to save organic citrus, and they need your help. They are partnering with industry members, academics, and other non-profits to conduct a major multi-year study examining organic solutions to ward off citrus greening and help organic citrus growers fight the deadly disease without resorting to dangerous chemicals or genetic engineering. A $45,000 grant from the UNFI Foundation has laid the foundation for the drive. The UNFI Foundation is concerned that the bulk of research thus far to control citrus greening disease has focused on conventional strategies that have had only limited success in the short-term, and are not allowed – and thus not even an option – for the organic citrus growers struggling with the disease.

The UNFI Grant will be applied to a three-year research project being led by The Organic Center, in collaboration with University of Florida entomologist, Michael Rogers and Ben McLean, vice president and director of research for Uncle Matt’s Organic, in order to find holistic organic solutions to controlling citrus greening. This information will be critical for providing growers around the country with the information they need to protect their citrus groves from collapse due to citrus greening. It will also be useful for policymakers in incorporating organic alternatives to Asian citrus psyllid control into area-wide treatment protocols.

About The Organic Center

Established in 2002 and based in Washington DC, The Organic Center is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to convene credible, evidence-based science on the health and environmental benefits of organic food and farming, and to communicate the findings to the public. As an independent non-profit 501(c)(3) research and education organization operating under the administrative auspices of the Organic Trade Association, The Center envisions improved health for the environment and for people through the conversion of agriculture to organic methods.

The organic industry needs help spreading the word about citrus greening and its devastating effects on organic citrus. Please share this crowd-funding campaign with your friends and family to raise awareness about how serious this issue is. Individuals can join the effort to help organic citrus farmers fight this deadly disease by visiting This Site