Lethal Yellowing

Article from Branch Buzz issue November 5, 2002

Lethal Yellowing Infects Coconut Palm Trees in the Palm Beaches

Coconut palm trees in West and North Palm Beach have exhibited signs of lethal yellowing and a number of cases at prominent resorts and clubs have been confirmed. Homeowners and Property Managers have noticed a change in the Coconut palm tree's color and appearance and suspected something was wrong.

The spread of this disease has become a large concern for Palm Beach County. Many homes and businesses have Coconut palm trees and a number of properties feature Canary Island Date palm trees, another species that is highly susceptible to lethal yellowing and extremely expensive to replace.

Work has begun in a number of costal areas to treat the infected trees and protect others against the disease. Untreated trees remain at a high risk of becoming infected since the disease is spread by a flying insect that feeds on palm trees.

For more information on protecting your palm trees against lethal yellowing, call Michael Zimmerman, Certified Arborist, at (561) 968-1045.

What is Lethal Yellowing?

Coconut Palm lethal yellowing
Coconut Palm Lethal Yellowing

Lethal yellowing is probably the single most important plant disease affecting horticulture in south Florida. It is a disease that infects and kills Coconut palms as well as 21 other varieties of palm trees. Lethal yellowing has long been of concern because of the highly destructive nature of the disease.

Lethal yellowing invaded Key West, Florida, as early as the 1930's, but was not diagnosed until the 1950's. It killed about 75% of the Coconut palms on Key West. By 1983, the epidemic had destroyed an estimated 100,000 Coconut palms and thousands of palms of other species.

Prevention of the Disease

The control of lethal yellowing in disease susceptible palms has proven to be very successful, however in order to accomplish this, three things must occur.

  1. The proper chemical, oxytetracyclene hydrochloride - (OTC), must be used for the control of lethal yellowing.
  2. Injections must be made on a timely basis. Four times per year depending on the degree of current infection or future protection desired.
  3. The injections must be applied by a trained technician using the proper syringe and receptacle.

In Coconut palms, the first symptom is the premature dropping of most or all of the coconuts. The fronds start to turn yellow, beginning with the older ones and advancing towards the younger ones near the center of the crown. The final stage is the death of the very center frond, or bud, causing the youngest unfolded leaf or frond to collapse.

Zimmerman Tree Service Locations

ISA Certified Arborist and ASCA Registered Consulting Arborist

Call For an Estimate

Palm Beach County: 561-968-1045

Including: Atlantis, Belle Glade, Boca Raton, Boynton Beach, Briny Breezes, Cloud Lake, Delray Beach, Glen Ridge, Greenacres, Gulf Stream, Haverhill, Highland Beach, Hypoluxo, Juno Beach, Jupiter, Jupiter Inlet Colony, Jupiter Island, Lake Clarke Shores, Lake Park, Lake Worth, Lantana, Loxahatchee Groves, Manalapan, Mangonia Park, North Palm Beach, Ocean Ridge, Pahokee, Palm Beach, Palm Beach Gardens, Palm Beach Shores, Palm Springs, Riviera Beach, Royal Palm Beach, Singer Island, South Bay, South Palm Beach, Tequesta, Village of Golf, Wellington, West Palm Beach and all other communities

Martin County: 772-546-0811

Boca Raton and Delray Beach: 561-338-3533

Broward County: 954-968-1045

Note: ISA is the International Society of Consulting Arboriculture. ASCA is the American Society of Consulting Arborist.

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