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Texas citrus shippers were granted permission Dec. 22 to market fruit to other citrus-producing states. A federal order on Sweet Orange Scab allowing these shipments was based on a pest risk assessment completed in December by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service, which concluded that fruit that goes through the normal packing operation is not epidemiologically significant as a pathway for transmitting SOS.

"The Texas citrus industry is very pleased that APHIS has acted to allow us to resume shipments to California and other citrus producing states," Ray Prewett, president of Texas Citrus Mutual, who spearheaded the effort to remove the shipping restrictions, said in a press release. “We believed the restrictions on such shipments were never justified because our scientists have not been able to confirm that we even have the traditional type of Sweet Orange Scab in our commercial citrus-production area in the Rio Grande Valley,”

Sweet Orange Scab was first detected in the United States on lemon and tangerine trees on a single property in Spring, TX, near Houston and was later discovered in the Texas commercial citrus-production area in October. During the summer and fall, Sweet Orange Scab was also detected in Louisiana and Mississippi.

Sweet Orange Scab has been categorized for many years as an actionable pest by the United States and several countries in South America and was left on the list because the amount of research on the disease was limited. Important new information documented in the pest risk assessment indicates that normal packing operations that include disinfectants, fungicides and wax are sufficient to mitigate the risk of the disease being transmitted by the fruit.

Citrus nursery stock is still a potential pathway for the spread of the disease, but there has not been a significant issue with nursery stock because rules are already in place to prevent it from being shipped to other citrus- producing states.