Scientist race to find solution as citrus greening spreads

The clock is ticking as researchers race to find a short-term solution to stop the spread of citrus greening, a destructive disease that kills citrus trees.

This year more than 600 citrus trees have tested positive.

What we want to do is reach out to the growers in this area and get everybody on board to spray, Noel Troclair, Texas Citrus Mutual, said.

The disease was discovered in the Rio Grande Valley back in January 2012 with the Mid Valley being hit the hardest.

Citrus Greening has already infected about 70-80 percent of citrus trees in Florida having a catastrophic affect to the industry there.

"The wish they were where we are now because it's not widespread here and it slipped up on them before they knew what was going on, Ray Prewett, president of Texas Citrus Mutual, said.

Researchers at the Texas Agrilife Research Center in Weslaco are working to make sure numbers stay low.

"We are trying to slow the spread for two reasons, we are trying to give scientist time to find a solution, Prewett explained. The second thing is to give the growers a chance to extend the life of their trees as long as possible."

Scientist test leaves from trees to find out if it TMs infected.

If the tree tests positive it TMs recommended that the owner completely remove it which stops the insects that feed on them from spreading the disease.

The hope is to get growers and home owners on board to spray for the insects and test leaves.

The risk of losing citrus trees will not only damage the $150 million dollar industry in the Valley.

It will also mean losing a piece of what makes the Valley unique.

Home owners who want their citrus tree tested can call the South Texas Citrus Alert hotline at 956-580-1917.

If the tree tests positive it will be removed for free with consent.