This year I am encouraging everyone to make the Cinco de Mayo celebration a “Citrus de Mayo” affair by celebrating citrus’ role in the holiday’s food and culture. My goal is to raise awareness of the serious threat that diseases like citrus greening pose to United States citrus.
From the limes and oranges we use to marinate the carne asada, and the lime we squeeze over our guacamole and tacos to bring out the flavor, to the delicious margaritas and the lime wedges with which we top an ice-cold beer, citrus is at the center of the festive Cinco de Mayo event.
Cinco de Mayo is just not the same without citrus. With multiple diseases affecting our citrus and the recent confirmation of citrus greening disease in California, our access to U.S.-grown citrus is under serious threat, and with it, many of the foods and festivities we enjoy. Read more »
Giant African snails can reach up to 8 inches in length and nearly 5 inches in diameter—about the size of an average adult fist—and can live up to nine years. In a typical year, mated adults lay about 1,200 eggs.
For the past several months, USDA’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and its partners at the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) have been fighting to stop the spread of the giant African snail—a nasty invasive pest that threatens Florida’s agricultural sector. Read more »
USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs, along with Maryland Agriculture Secretary Buddy Hance, discuss the damage that can be done by emerald ash borer and raise a purple trap for the 2012 EAB survey season.
The Patuxent Wetlands Park is a lovely setting in Anne Arundel County, Maryland where vibrant tidal wetlands give way to the Patuxent River. It is a place where the community enjoys fishing, boating and nature. It is also the site of one of the 500 purple, prism-shaped traps hanging high in Maryland ash trees this spring and summer. The purple traps help State and Federal officials to uncover signs of the invasive, tree-killing emerald ash borer (EAB) beetle. Read more »
Does your citrus tree have spotted leaves or fruit with brown raised spots or small lopsided fruit? Good news, USDA released a free Save Our Citrus iPhone app that makes it easy to identify and report the four leading citrus diseases: citrus greening, citrus canker, citrus black spot and sweet orange scab.
In just a few steps, the Save Our Citrus app, available in English and Spanish, allows you to report the symptoms, upload a photo and receive an individual response back from citrus experts. Read more »
In the battle to preserve agriculture and the environment, Ben Shrader is Luke Skywalker and invasive species are Darth Vader.
Ben, a young man from central Texas, first became interested in invasive species after reading a newspaper article about plants wreaking havoc on native ecosystems. Also known as “Commander Ben,” he describes it as a “battle in nature, like good versus evil” and decided that he wanted to help the “good guys” win.
In his first of many spars with invasive species, Ben conducted a science fair project on giant reed (Arundo donax), an invasive plant that is damaging riparian ecosystems in his home state of Texas. But Ben didn’t stop there. Combining his love for filmmaking with his passion for science, Ben created a blog entitled “Commander Ben-The Invasive Hunter,” where he records his exploits and posts videos and other content to teach kids about the fight against invasive species. Read more »
Photo courtesy of the U.S. National Arboretum – Inspection of original shipment of cherry trees in January 1910
Since 1912, the beautiful pink and white blossoms of the Tidal Basin’s Japanese cherry trees have been one of our national Capital’s most iconic images. For Washingtonians, cherry blossoms herald the beginning of spring and a reprieve, albeit brief, between frosty winter weather (although this winter, not so much) and the sweaty, swampy conditions of summertime. Tourists flock from around the world to the National Cherry Blossom Festival, snapping photographs and attending events across the city. Yet few people realize that DC’s now ubiquitous cherry trees would never have reached America without a little help from USDA. Read more »