Texas Citrus Laws
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By John Panzarella
Many people do not realize that it is illegal to bring citrus trees into Texas from any state or country outside Texas. It is even illegal to bring fresh citrus fruit into Texas from Florida. The purpose of this law is to prevent the spread of diseases. Florida has the dreaded citrus canker, and re-greening disease that spread all over Florida because of recent hurricanes. To prevent the spread of these diseases into Texas, Texas passed a law which requires all Texas citrus to be labeled “Produced in Texas” and to have the license number of the originating nursery. I can understand the purpose of having a license number on a tree, but adding “Produced in Texas” to a label does not seem to have a purpose. If someone wants to break the law, they can add the label “Produced in Texas” on trees from anywhere.
In 2009 the USDA issued an order that no citrus trees could be exported out of Texas. For further details, you can go to the USDA web page: http://www.saveourcitrus.org/
The consumer/purchaser would really benefit if the type of rootstock is placed on the label of the grafted, budded, grown from seed, or cutting propagated tree. A rootstock label would alert the purchaser to potential diseases for the tree, how big it will get, how long before it will fruit, and etc. For people in the Upper Gulf Coast region, grafting onto trifoliate is important for a successful graft. (See web page Why You Want to Grow Citrus Grafted on Trifoliata)
Also, a nursery license number should be searchable on the web so that the consumer can research the history concerning who produced the tree. This is important because many nurseries are only resellers of trees. At the present time, you can not search the web for information about the originating nursery. When the consumer purchases a tree from Wal-Mart, Lowe’s, Home Depot, or a large nursery, they have no idea what rootstock was used or who produced the tree since the producing nursery is not required to be on the label, and the number is only known by the Texas Dept of Agriculture.
A requirement that all bud wood be purchased from the Weslaco Citrus Center is slowly going into effect. The wood is certified exocortis, cachexia, and xyloporosis free.
The Citrus Center realizes that it does not have all the varieties that many citrus collectors and “citroholics” desire, and they have agreed to import some varieties which they don’t have from the California germ-plasm bank. Unfortunately, California recently found tristeza in their “clean” trees, so Texas has temporarily suspended importing buds from the California germ-plasm bank until they completely check and certify their trees free of tristeza.