A disease growing in citrus trees has state environmentalists knocking on doors in the Lowcountry to track down the culprit.
Citrus trees may not survive in all of South Carolina, but they can be found quite numerous in the Lowcountry and surronding areas on the coast, specifically in someone’s backyard. Christel Harden with Clemson University’s Plant Industry Department says residents in Charleston, Beaufort, and Colleton counties may have inspectors knocking on their doors starting today (Tuesday) looking for those citrus trees with a disease called citrus greening.
“The disease will eventually kill the plant and before it kills the plant it causes the fruit to be very bad tasting, very bitter and sour, although it doesn’t cause any risk to human health, you can eat the fruit and it won’t hurt you, it just doesn’t taste good,” says Harden.
Citrus greening is a bacterial disease in trees that reduces production and destroys the economic value of the fruit it bears. Once a tree is infected, there is no cure. Harden says there have been two recent sightings of the citrus greening disease in Charleston, and the whole purpose of the inspectors surveying the coastal land is to determine the extent of the disease in the state so it doesn’t spread further. Although Harden doesn’t expect to find many more diseased trees in the state, she says they need to be sure.
“We don’t want the citrus greening disease to move out of Charleston County and into any of the citrus producing states, like California, Arizona and Texas, that don’t have that disease. So, that’s the reason there is a quarantine in Charleston County for the movement of citrus plants,” says Harden.
It will take 2 to 4 weeks for the inspectors to complete the surveys. Harden says every surveyor will have a photo identification and credentials from their agencies.