WESLACO – The Mexican fruit fly is causing costly havoc for local citrus growers.
The pest left its mark on more than 4,000 acres of orchards across the Rio Grande Valley. Texas Citrus Mutual said the fruit fly cost growers about $1 million in profits.
Fred Karle has several hundred acres inside a quarantine zone for the Mexican fruit fly. He along with the USDA worked to get the pest out.
“It’s important for the marketing for our fruit that we control that,” he said.
At the end of the harvest, Karle said he cleared out his trees of citrus. The fruit may be gone but the fly continues to linger.
Karle said he will continue to spray for the pest even with empty trees.
“We were doing it every 30 days during the season, and here during the off season we’re doing it about every four to six weeks,” he said.
According to Texas Citrus Mutual, growers pay on average $200 to $300 per acre to spray. This year over 270 growers across the Valley took a hit by the pest.
The reason the fight has a tough time ending is due to citrus trees people have for personal use.
“That’s actually where most of our quarantine comes from, it’s not from our growers cause we’re protecting our groves. It comes from our neighbors who have trees in their yard are not treated,” Karle said.
He said this summer he is focused on getting his groves out of the quarantine zone so next harvest will have a better outcome.
The USDA and the Texas Department of Agriculture urges people with their own citrus to make sure they’re cleared of all fruit. It will help crews fight the pest this summer.
Citizens can report sick citrus trees or abandoned citrus groves. It will help crews pinpoint areas they need to focus on to treat.
If possible, they ask that the person take a picture of the trees.