Surprise update on the case of the date palm with Texas Phoenix Palm Decline

26 June 2014 Idea of the day “One man with courage is a majority.” Thomas Jefferson

We are replacing the majestic Medjool date palm at the front gate of my ranch-owner client. Fortunately the TPPD bacterium doesn’t transfer through the soil so it’s safe to re-plant in the same spot right away.

But the other day I received what I thought was bad news about the progress of the disease. His field hand reported to me that it looked like another Medjool date way at the back of the property about 1/4 of a mile away was now also succumbing to the same thing. He told me it “looks puny!” A down-home funny way of putting it, but I had to agree. Here’s a photo of what he sent me. 1403546837374_IMG_1403546827384

This was despite having injected it with the anti-biotic. I let the owner know that the distributor does have a note on his website that after TPPD is confirmed by a lab test, as it had been in this case, that they recommended a double dose injection be administered to any other date palm on the property. And then another double dose in 14 days. We had provided him with about 150 doses for his men to inject, so hopefully that will be done with the other eleven. Still I wasn’t sure, as the flower stalks are still bright orange as you can see and the lower fronds were still mostly green, something you don’t usually see in early TPPD symptoms.

I also mentioned to him that there are four Florida palms known to be resistant to TPPD that he may want to consider in any re-planting – the Bismark, the Solitaire, the Foxtail and the very dramatic Royal palm. There also has been no definitive case of TPPD in a Washingtonian fan palm, but these aren’t usually considered majestic palms appropriate to decorating a front entranceway. They’re thinner and very tall which can be fine to line a driveway but not to make a grand entry statement.

Interesting how this disease can spread – and harbor the bacterium without showing any signs at first. The anti-biotic is supposed to be able to keep the reproductive cycle of the bacterium enough suppressed that it doesn’t catch the disease. We will have to see if this one can be saved. I’ll let you know.
NEWS FLASH – Here on July 1, checking back with the ranch, turns out this palm shown above was surrounded by other damage to electrical wires and it’s been determined that it was struck by lightning and isn’t spreading TPPD after all. This is certainly good news and a good idea of what lightning struck palms look like.  Notice in the photo that this is confirmed by the fact that the lower fronds had not gone brown and the flowers stalks are still bright orange, items which both go brown when a palm gets TPPD. The Tampa metro area is one of the hottest lightning storm locales in the United States so this isn’t surprising at all, especially with this palm being on top of a wide open hill.

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