Citrus canker is a common disease in New Orleans gardens, caused by the bacterium Xanthomonas axonopodis. The disease appears as lesions on fruits, leaves, and stems, causing defoliation. It causes early fruit drop, fruit reduction, and sometimes a total cessation of fruit production. Canker’s favorite trees to invade are grapefruit, lime orange, and lemon, with only kumquats showing total resistance according to an LSU AgCenter research study done on site in 2018-2019.

Canker was discovered in 1910 in Florida and quickly expanded to seven Atlantic and Gulf Coast states, including Louisiana, by 1914. Since 1940, the pathogen seemed to have been vanquished from Louisiana-until it reappeared on June 28, 2013.

Cankers enter plants through wounds or stomata. It spreads through wind transmission, splashing rain, hurricanes, landscape equipment, transport of infected citrus, and even on people’s clothing and hands. Because canker is not curable, infected fruit should be composted on site and damaged trees eventually removed.

Since 1998, our Walled Garden has been full of our favorite citrus varieties like grapefruit and Blood Orange trees. However, due to a major canker infestation we have been left with no choice but to remove our trees and temporarily replace with kumquats based on LSU AgCenter recommendations while research results continue to come out over the coming months.

Although we will miss our beautiful citrus trees, there is always something new sprouting at Longue Vue. Please come out and see what’s blossoming!

Yours in gardening,

 

Simeon Benjamin

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