Florida is among the leaders in the production of citrus fruits. Along with citrus fruits, other types of fruit trees thrive in Florida's climate including persimmon, mangoes and bananas. If you have fruit trees in your Florida home garden, it is important to be on the lookout for diseased trees, as many fruit tree diseases can spread.
Nematodes are worm-like creatures that live in soil or plant tissues, such as roots, stems or leaves. These pests are prolific in Florida, though only some are detrimental to fruit plants, including the root knot, lesion and citrus varieties, according to a University of Florida IFAS Extension paper titled, "Nematodes of Backyard Deciduous Fruit Crops in Florida."
Root-knot nematodes inhibit the normal function of roots and may cause knots or galls that allow other pests to infect the roots while lesion nematodes feed on woody plants, creating sores on the stems that allow other pests to attack the plant. Citrus nematodes are common in Florida and these pests feed on the roots of citrus and persimmon trees. If these pests are present in large quantities, they may weaken the root system.
The most prevalent soil-borne disease that affects citrus in Florida is foot rot, according to a University of Florida IFAS Extension paper titled "Your Florida Dooryard Citrus Guide." This disease is caused by a fungus called water mold that may appear during the rainy season or in areas that do not drain well.
The fungus can affect the scion or rootstock or both, and symptoms include oozing on the scion or the decomposition of the feeder roots close to the soil surface. Fungicides may be used to control foot rot, and, if the oozing patches of the trunk have dried, they may be scraped off and painted over with copper paint.
Citrus Greening Disease
Citrus greening disease, which is a bacterial plant disease that is spread by gnat-like Asian citrus psyllids, may kill citrus and other fruit trees. This bacteria was first discovered in the United States. in South Florida in 2005, according to a 2007 paper by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The bacteria, which causes citrus leaves to turn yellow and drop, may take years to infect a whole tree, and there is no cure. Infected trees should be removed to prevent the disease from spreading. The pests that cause the infection, the Asian citrus psyllids, should be eliminated professionally.