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Ministry of Agriculture to begin distribution of grafted citrus plants

Ministry of Agriculture to begin distribution of  grafted citrus plants
Entomologist Dr Rafique Bailey (left) presenting a citrus plant to Kenny Douglas

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The Ministry of Agriculture will begin distribution of approximately 1000 grafted citrus plants that are in high demand today Tuesday, June 9.

The varieties that are available are Valencia oranges (Olinda, Frost, Cutter, Delta, Dom Jao, Pehson #4, Midnight); Navel Oranges (Fukomoto, Lane late, Leng); Blood Oranges- Moro Blood Oranges; Sweet Oranges- Jincheng Sweet Oranges, Cadenero; Grapefruits – (Oro blanco, Rio Red); Lemon- (Interdonato, Frost Eureka, Seedless Lisbon, Variegated Pink Lemon, 8 A Lisbon);

Lime- (Persian Lime, Lima Lime, Palestine sweet Lime, Mexican Lime); and Tangerine Orange- Dweet Tangor, Ponkan.

A release from the Ministry said citrus production in St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) declined in recent times due to the presence of the citrus greening or Huanglongbing disease, which was first detected in 2010 on the Grenadine Island of Canouan. From there, it spread throughout the mainland of St. Vincent. The bacteria that infects the citrus trees is spread by a small insect, the citrus psyllid.

To manage the disease, the Ministry of Agriculture made a number of interventions as follows:

(1) In 2015, 2016, and 2017, the natural enemies of the citrus psyllid were imported from Florida to suppress the population of the vector.

(2) Insect proof greenhouses were retrofitted and established at Rivulet Station to propagate clean planting material and for foundation blocks.

(3) Disease free seeds and budwood material were imported from USDA Germplasm in California.

(4) Foundation blocks with trees planted in pots and in the soil to collect seeds and budwood for future use were established at Rivulet and the Orange Hill Biotechnology Center.

(5) A chemical and nutritional spraying program was implemented and 10 large farmers were selected to work specifically on that program.

(6) Capacity building for farmers and technicians in identification and management of the disease were held in each of the three Agricultural regions. The Ministry continues to spray all fruit trees.

(7) A new propagation greenhouse was built and new varieties were also imported under the Japan Caribbean Climate Change Project.

“Currently, there are about 1,000 grafted citrus plants along with some rough lemon rootstocks that are also in demand available to farmers. The technician leading the program is Dr Rafique Bailey (Entomologist) along with the technical staff Osborne Labban, Donna Duncan, Lasha Cambridge, Idalberto Naranjo, and Semoneaca Williams and the field staff at Rivulet Station,” the release from the Ministry said.

The release said the Ministry will ensure that resources are allocated to increase the production of these plants over the next 12 months.

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