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US (FL): TreeSteamer could help in fight against citrus greening

Citrus greening disease has plagued the citrus industry in the United States, but its threat is especially potent in Florida. In the quest to fight the disease, a Florida company, ScoringAg, is hoping their TreeSteamer can help the state's growers eradicate citrus greening before it harms the state's citrus industry any further.

“Citrus greening has been wiping out citrus in Florida,” said William Kanitz, President of ScoringAg. “It's so dangerous because, while we can stop the psyllids that spread the disease, it's been almost impossible to stop the bacteria that causes the disease once a tree is infected.” But Kanitz believes that harmful bacteria can be eliminated by treating trees with high-temperature steam. Exposing trees to steam in order to kill bacteria has been done by researchers at the University of Florida, but ScoringAg's take on the approach incorporates modifications to the procedure that Kanitz believes make the TreeSteamer a valuable tool for growers looking to curb the spread of citrus greening.

“We've taken the steaming idea and applied technology to it that makes it better from a grower and ag production standpoint,” said Kanitz. “Previous machines covered a tree in plastic and then removed the plastic after steaming. Our machine allows growers to go through an entire row of trees without stopping.” The faster speed with which the TreeSteamer can get through a grove makes it a good weapon in the large-scale battle against citrus greening. The time advantage gained with faster treatment of trees is crucial, noted Kanitz, as the disease has been tearing through the state's groves at an alarming rate.

“There have been a lot of options tried over the years, and there are lots of companies experimenting on solutions to this problem,” said Kanitz. “But those solutions could take several years to develop, and we might not have much left by then.” With an eye toward doing something quickly, Kanitz noted that they're just several weeks away from production, and they hope to be able to ramp up production to a machine a day in just a few months.

“We'll have the first machines ready for small growers in about three weeks, and we'll have more machines available by September,” said Kanitz. “Growers can also contact us now, as we're currently taking deposits for the machines.”

For more information:
William Kanitz
+1 941 497 3400

Publication date: 7/24/2014
Author: Carlos Nunez / Sander Bruins Slot



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