Florida avocados threatened by fungus

TAMPA, FL (WFLA) — Deborah Harper finds a way every day to incorporate Florida avocados into her diet. “On sandwiches, hamburgers, turkey sandwiches, it’s great on a veggie sandwich,” Harper says. She also starts each day with Florida avocado on her toast.

A recent push is on to get more people eating Florida avocados. A fungus called laurel wilt is being spread by the ambrosia beetle is impacting a small portion of Florida avocado trees. The state tells News Channel 8 that there are multiple ways that people can help.

Growers are encouraging everyone to eat more Florida avocados. The hope is with more money, more research can be done on how to combat laurel wilt. The state is also advising people not to use firewood from out of state, which can transport those ambrosia beetles that spread the disease.

“We deal with a company in Homestead, Florida. They’re about the biggest Florida avocado growers around,” said owner of Tampa Farmer’s Market John Sansone. Florida avocados come from southern Florida where the impact of laurel wilt is impacting a small percentage of the crop. But the goal is to make sure that the impact doesn’t grow.

In Pinellas County, The Laurel Wilt Disease/fungus has ravaged the red bay trees in the area and has been present since 2011 or 2012. “There are many dead red bay trees at Brooker Creek Preserve where my office is located,” said University of Florida Urban Horticulture Extension Agent and Master Gardener Coordinator, Theresa Badurek.

Badurek says the best source would be the Tropical Research and Education Center in Homestead. They are doing the research and have the latest information here.

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