CREI has supplied industry nursery owners with certified budwood and seeds for many years. One or two nursery owners have established their own budwood multiplication blocks and approached CREI to certify those and their seed source trees. Under the certification process of the BCCP regulations, CREI tests the multiplication block trees for citrus tristeza virus (CTV) and the seed source trees for psorosis: any trees found to be infected are destroyed in the presence of a witness from CREI staff. This is just one way in which CREI's programmes work to reduce the incidence of diseases in Belize.
Also under the BCCP regulations, all multiplication blocks in Belize must be screened with aphid and psyllid proof screen. This is to prevent brown citrus aphid, the most efficient vector for CTV, or the Asian Citrus Psyllid, the vector for HLB-greening bacteria, from feeding on the multiplication block trees and infecting the budwood trees with CTV or HLB.
At CREI, the screen structures for our multiplication blocks were destroyed by the flood of June 2008 but it was not until December 2009 that funding was approved to replace them. This delay will mean that it will take some time before budwood is available in the industry. We are aiming to have small amounts available, by June 2010 (from trees that have been continuously maintained under screen), and larger amounts available by early 2011 from currently established budwood trees (that have been screened, treated with insecticide and that consistently tested negative for CTV and HLB over a period of at least 12 months).
Nursery owners and growers should be reminded that using budwood from grove trees to make plants is very risky. Not only could these trees be infected with severe strains of CTV but they could also now be infected with HLB. This means that by using these trees as the budwood source nursery owners risk contaminating their whole nursery stock with CTV or HLB not to mention other diseases. If nursery plants they are infected with HLB, for example, they are unlikely to survive once planted in the field long enough to produce fruit.
The bottom line: always buy budwood from a certified source. If you have a large enough nursery or could form a group with fellow nursery owners, talk to CREI about how to establish your own certified budwood multiplication block to supply your own nursery.