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Division of Marketing and Development
Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
Mayo Building, M-9
407 South Calhoun Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0800
(850) 617-7300

Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
Adam H. Putnam, Commissioner

April 29, 2010

Save the Guac:
What Would Cinco De Mayo Day Be Without Guacamole?

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Charles H. Bronson, like many people, enjoys fresh Florida guacamole and wants the public to know that a plant disease called laurel wilt is threatening one of its host trees, the Florida avocado.  The Department’s Division of Plant Industry (DPI) has created a “Save the Guac” campaign to educate the public about this disease and the importance of Florida’s avocado industry.

As Cinco de Mayo approaches, kitchens are abuzz dicing tomatoes and cilantro, squeezing limes and slicing up fresh Florida avocados.  The Department’s Executive Chef Justin Timineri has a guacamole recipe that is hard to beat.  Find the recipe and a video demonstration on how to prepare it at or on YouTube.  At the same site, find information on laurel wilt disease and what you can do to prevent the spread of this disease.

Laurel wilt is a destructive disease of redbay, avocado and other trees in the laurel family.  The disease is caused by a fungus that infects the sapwood of host trees, restricting the flow of water, causing the leaves to wilt and the trees to die.  The fungus is carried into trees by the non-native redbay ambrosia beetle, which was first detected in the United States near Savannah, Georgia, in 2002 and subsequently found in Duval County, Florida, in 2005.  Laurel wilt has caused high levels of mortality in redbay trees in South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, and has affected several other hosts including sassafras and avocado.

The Florida Agricultural Statistics Service reports that Florida has over 6,773 production acres of avocados in South Florida.  Florida’s avocado industry and backyard avocado trees are healthy; however, if a disease such as laurel wilt were to take hold, the estimated replacement cost of commercial and backyard avocados in Florida is $423 million, a cost agriculture officials and the industry want to avoid.

Guacamole lovers need to unite to stop the disease before it reaches Florida’s avocado groves.  The public can help prevent the spread of the redbay ambrosia beetle and laurel wilt disease by following these simple suggestions:

-- Become familiar with the signs of laurel wilt disease and redbay ambrosia beetle  and be on the lookout for evidence of the pest/disease on your trees.

-- Use local firewood only.  Do not transport firewood from other states because destructive pests and diseases, such as redbay ambrosia beetle and laurel wilt, can hitchhike into Florida on infested firewood.

-- Do not transport host trees (redbay, swamp bay, avocado, sassafras, pondspice, pondberry and others in the Lauraceae family) unless purchased from a registered nursery.

-- People who suspect their trees may be infected with laurel wilt, or think they have found a redbay ambrosia beetle, are urged to contact the DPI helpline at 1-888-397-1517. 

So, on this Cinco de Mayo, prepare your favorite guacamole dish and ponder life without it.  You will be sure to take responsible steps to prevent anything that threatens the health of Florida avocado trees.  Join the cause and visit where you can sign up to receive a free “Save the Guac” bumper sticker and view Chef Justin’s guacamole recipe and video demonstration.

For more information:
Denise Feiber
(352) 372-3505 ext. 102
(352) 235-0036 cell

Eleen Dyck
(352) 372-3505 ext. 100
(352) 258-9338 cell

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