Lethal Bronzing Lesson

Bronze is a pretty color. Shiny metallic brown looks excellent on roofs and lawn ornaments, but if you see it on your palm tree—you’re in trouble. Lethal Bronzing is a bacterial disease that’s killing palms across Central Florida. This post will give you the details on this destructive condition and how to tell if it’s festering in your fronds.

Deadly disease
First, let’s get the bad news out of the way. Lethal bronzing is deadly. Infected trees usually survive five months if untreated. And get this—there is no cure. Lethal Bronzing is a relatively new problem in Florida. The first reported case in Hillsborough County was in 2006. Since then it has rapidly spread across the state.
Lethal Bronzing doesn’t affect all palms, but the bugs that cause it to go after some of the most popular ones, like the Sabal, Queen, Pygmy Date, Christmas, Bismark, Chinese Fan, and Carpentaria palms.

We can trace this big problem to a tiny bug. The planthopper pest carries bacteria called phytoplasma to the trees. These sap-sucking insects then spread the disease from palm to palm.

Beware of bronze
The first thing to look for is the color of your dead fronds. Old-growth turns yellow, which is normal, but this sickness turns them a nasty shade of reddish-brown, hence the name Lethal Bronzing. This can be tricky since the symptoms are similar to many nutrient deficiencies, but his one is fatal. The bronzing begins on the old-growth and will eventually move up to the top of the tree.

If you think your palm is turning bronze, remove all dead fronds and have it tested. If you get the diagnosis that you’ve dreaded, it’s time to take out that tree.

Just because one of your trees have, it doesn’t mean they’re all doomed. There are anti-biotic injections on the market that will protect your susceptible palms.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but it’s better to find out about lethal bronzing before you wonder why you’re the color of your favorite green palm tree is starting to resemble the medal that’s handed out to the third-place winners at the Olympics. If you have more questions or if you need a hand getting rid of infected palms or planting new ones, make sure you contact us.
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