Focus Sharpens to Defend Florida Avocados From Deadly Disease
Florida avocados are under attack! The deadly laurel wilt disease has taken a large bite out of the nutritious tree fruit crop in recent years, according to an article on GrowingProduce.com. In response, stakeholders have mounted concerted efforts to save the $100 million-a-year industry. Modern technology could be the ultimate solution. According to University of Florida researchers, remote imaging can effectively detect the laurel wilt pathogen — even before the trees show symptoms.
Florida is the second-leading producer of avocados in the U.S., only behind California. Nearly all of Florida’ avocados are grown in Miami-Dade County, where laurel wilt is rampant.
Yiannis Ampatzidis, an Assistant Professor of agricultural and biological engineering at the UF/IFAS Southwest Research and Education Center in Immokalee, led new research that was recently published in the journal Computers and Electronics in Agriculture showing how multispectral cameras carried by drones can detect laurel wilt on avocado trees.