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Brief Introduction to Laurel Wilt

Laurel wilt (LW), caused by Raffaelea lauricola, is an invasive, lethal disease of members of the Lauraceae plant family in the southeastern USA. Since 2003, it has killed millions of native forest trees, and currently impacts commercial avocado production in South Florida. The disease has moved rapidly in Florida since it was first detected in Duval County in 2005. In February 2011, its presence was confirmed for the first time in Miami–Dade County, 6 km from the northern boundary of Florida's commercial avocado production area (CAPA). In March 2012, LW was first detected on an avocado tree in CAPA and has since spread at an alarming rate.

Although initial infections in a given grove are presumed to involve beetle dispersion of the pathogen, secondary spread within a planting apparently occurs via root grafts between infected and healthy trees. Effective management of root graft transmission is a primary concern in LW-affected groves. Current recommendations for LW control involve the prompt diagnosis of affected trees, rapid removal and destruction of these trees (sanitation), and treatment of adjacent trees with fungicides and insecticides.

Since LW could cause a permanent reduction in the long-term profitability of the Florida avocado industry, growers, policy makers, and other stakeholders are concerned about the disease's future impact on the industry, how limited resources should be allocated to mitigate its threat, and how long-term survival of the industry might be ensured. Cost-effective management of LW remains an elusive goal, and current recommendations rely heavily on early detection, destruction of affected trees (sanitation) and treatment of adjacent trees.

The primary objective of the website is to provide information on the economics of managing this important disease. In particular, information provided will enable users to assess the economic costs and benefits at the farm level for the various control treatments being investigated. The website will also provide a list of effective and approved chemicals (insecticides and fungicides) for treating the pathogen and its vector, as well as information on various methods of application, information about the best timing of their use, strategies for treatment, and cost projections. In addition, the website will provide an assessment of the total net economic effects of the disease on avocado production, prices, revenues, and surplus; show where the disease is located; and provide a running total of the number of trees eradicated.

Laurel Wilt Disease Progression

This video shows a chronological spread of the Laurel Wilt disease in avocado groves in Miami Dade County.


For additional information on the economics of managing laurel wilt disease please contact: Dr. Edward 'Gilly'Evans at 305 246 7001 ext. 272, email or Mr. Fredy Ballen at 305 246 7001 ext. 257, email

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