Scientists Help Combat Diseases in Abandoned Orchards

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WESLACO - Abandoned orchards aren't just an eyesore they can be dangerous to nearby citrus growers.

The director of Texas A&M Citrus, John Da Grasa, told CHANNEL 5 NEWS they can cause big problems of the crop.

"The main danger is disease citrus greening," Da Grasa said.

Diseases like this thread to citrus through Psyllids.

"The Psyllids is attracted to young flesh that's when it feeds lays to eggs and picks up the bacteria that causes the disease," explained Da Grasa.

A new research program may help with some of that danger.

"We have a research program going on now where we're building a screen on the side of the orchard," said Da Grasa.

The 10 foot screen has a yellow color strip which attracts the insects and the insect picks up at the pesticide and dies.

Da Grasa has estimated there are short of one million trees in the Rio Grande Valley.

"Not far from every orchard is a source of infection," he said.

In 2017 alone, the Texas Citrus Pest and Disease Management Corporation already removed 260 acres worth of abandoned orchards.

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