Lethal Yellowing

Lethal Yellowing is a deadly disease which affects palms. It has been seen in dozens of species of palms, but it is most common in Coconut and Christmas palms. Lethal Yellowing is a phytoplasma which is thought to behave like a primitive virus and is transmitted by the leafhopper bug Myndus Crudus. The leafhopper feeds on an infected palm and ingests the phytoplasm. Once it has fed on an infected palm, the leafhopper can infect other palms that it feeds on.   Lethal Yellowing can only be spread by the insect whos body metabolizes the organism and makes it transferable. Scientists have taken active lethal yellowing phytoplasm and injected it into healthy palms and the disease never appeared.   Growers have tried cross breeding different coconut palms to try to come up with a species that does not get the lethal yellowing disease but no palms have offered any reliable resistance to the disease. You can identify Lethal Yellowing by visible symptoms on the palms. The earliest symptom is a browning, then later a blackening in the inflorescence. The inflorescence is the name for the cluster of flowers that eventually grow into coconuts. Once the inflorescence starts discoloring, the palm is almost surely affected with lethal yellowing.


  Lethal Yellowing is treated with an antibiotic inoculation program, Palm Tree Doctor uses the patented Tree Saver Injection System. This involves drilling a hole into the trunk and inserting a hollow case with a silicone seal on one end. The oxytetracycline antibiotic is then injected into the casing using a hypodermic needle. This method has been shown to be far superior to the old method which uses a plastic cup placed onto the trunk of the palm.   Treatment of Lethal Yellowing should be started as soon as the palm shows a darkening of the inflorescence. One of our representatives can look at the palm and see if the palm is too far along to treat. The antibiotic can also be used as a preventative on healthy palms that are showing no symptoms. The injections need to be continued throughout the life of the palm. If the injections are stopped, the symptoms will re-appear.