USDA expands Florida quarantine for citrus black spot

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has expanded quarantine areas in Florida due to the further detection of citrus black spot.

APHIS is adding 11 sections in Collier County and 75 sections in Hendry County. These actions are in direct response to the surveys conducted by APHIS and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Division of Plant Industry.

This is an update on previous quarantine areas, which also include parts of Lee and Polk counties, as Florida first discovered citrus black spot in 2010. Since then, APHIS has taken steps to limit its spread, as "fresh citrus fruit that is moved interstate from the (citrus black spot) quarantine areas must be packed in commercial citrus packinghouses operating under a compliance agreement with APHIS and the fruit must be processed using APHIS-approved methods," according to a November update to the quarantine order.

"APHIS is applying safeguarding measures and restrictions on the interstate movement or entry into foreign trade of regulated articles from the quarantine," APHIS said in the update.

Citrus black spot is a fungal disease that is distinguished by dark, speckled spots or blotches on the rinds on the fruit. The infection remains latent until the fruit is mature and it causes the fruit to drop early, reduces crop yield and leaves the fruit highly blemished and undesirable.