Fungus threatens avocado crop in Florida

Industry worth $55 million to state economy

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WINTER HAVEN, Fla. - A fungus poses a serious threat to Florida's commercial avocado industry, which is worth $55 million to the state economy.

The laurel wilt fungus was first detected in northeast Florida's Duval County in 2005. It moved rapidly through the state, striking Florida's commercial production area in south Miami-Dade County in March 2012.

Officials say since then, more than 3,000 trees found to be infested have been destroyed. That represents only a small fraction of the state's 650,000-tree commercial stock.

The Lakeland Ledger reports that the only way to halt the disease is to destroy a tree once the fungus is detected. It's a process that's costly in terms of sampling, testing and disposal.

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