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Florida Researchers Use Lasers To Cure Trees Infected With Citrus Greening

This is a healthy citrus tree treated with the laser method developed at UF. Photo: Catherine Welch

University of Florida researchers think they’ve found a way to cure trees infected with citrus greening.

The treatment comes in three steps: first, a laser cuts small lines into the leaves of an infected tree, next an antibiotic is sprayed over the leaves, and then the leaves are covered in wax protecting them from further damage.

U.S. Senator Bill Nelson says the clock is ticking to save Florida’s dwindling crops. “If they’re not successful then we’re in deep trouble because citrus is synonymous with Florida,” said Nelson.

Researchers said every mature citrus tree in Florida is infected with greening and will die if they’re not saved. This worries Nelson who said Florida orange juice is in danger of disappearing if the disease is not curbed.

“This bacteria is in every grove in Florida, it’s in every grove in the United States, and it’s in every grove in Brazil,” said Nelson. “So if we’re going to have citrus we’ve got to find a cure.”

The $11 billion citrus industry supports 60,000 jobs in Florida, said Nelson.

Tiny insects spread greening. The disease starves trees of nutrients, spoiling the fruit and eventually killing the tree.

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About Catherine Welch

Catherine Welch