With 330 trees, corresponding to 66 improved varieties of citrus, brought by the State Sanitary Service, CATIE established the first citrus improved gene bank in Costa Rica, aiming at contributing to the development of citrus production in the country.
The genes come from the Seed Bank of the University of California Riverside Seed Bank, one of the most prestigious banks in the world. According to William Solano, a researcher at CATIE, these varieties were brought to for sanitary reasons because its immune against a disease known as huanglongbing (HLB) associated with the bacteria Candidatus Liberibacter. "This bacteria causes the economic death of the tree failing to produce marketable fruit, with orange and grapefruit being more susceptible" he said.
"Among the materials received at CATIE are oranges, mandarins, grape fruit and lemons mainly for fresh consumption. However, there are some oranges for juice and for the concentrate industry," stated Solano.
All plants have a strain called "Flying Dragon", which is resistant to various diseases and has a dwarfing effect on the tree facilitating management and reducing costs as well as allowing better performance.
HLB disease is currently the primary threat to citrus production due to the severity of the symptoms, how quickly it spreads and the fact that all commercial varieties are susceptible.
With an investment of $6 million a program will be developed in Central America to control pests affecting citrus fruits.
The technical cooperation agreement signed between the International International Organization for Regional Specialized Health in Agrifood (OIRSA in Spanish) and the Republic of China (Taiwan), focuses on fighting the most destructive pests affecting citrus fruits: Huanglongbing (HLB).
About 100 thousand plants in the citrus departments north and east of the country have been destroyed by the yellow leaf virus.
Prensalibre.com reports: "Honduras' citrus production covers about 23,000 hectares, of which about 19,500 are oranges, 1.100 lemons and 500 grapefruit in commercial plantations, while the rest are crops in family estates".
Given the great threat to citrus fruits posed by the Huanglongbing plague, a project is being planned to strengthen control of the pest and for the implementation of integrated pest management for citrus fruits.
From a statement from the International Regional Organization for Animal Health (OIRSA):
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