Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Beetle, fungus threaten Florida's avocado industry

Excerpts from an AP story by Sarah Larimer on 5/8/09

A little beetle could cause big problems for Florida's multimillion-dollar avocado industry.

Scientists are tracking the redbay ambrosia beetle as it crisscrosses the southeastern United States, spreading a fungus that is killing avocado trees. The beetle and the fungus it transmits could be devastating in Florida, the country's second-largest avocado producer.

In Miami, Craig Wheeling the CEO of Brooks Tropicals says the impending threat of laurel wilt disease bears a striking resemblance to citrus canker, which struck Florida orange and lime growers years ago, causing millions of dollars in damage. "Having gone through that mess in the early 2000s, we're very concerned when we see the redbay ambrosia beetle coming down," he said.