GROVELAND, Fla. — Florida's citrus industry is in crisis, and the cure for revival may come with the help of an unlikely source.

  • Group researching using dogs to detect citrus disease
  • The hope is early detection will save the trees
  • If successful, it could be used with other crops

Florida farmers produce more than $9 billion worth of citrus each year. But Dr. Tim Gottwald with the U.S. Department of Agriculture says citrus disease has spread rapidly in the Sunshine State. 

“We’ve lost tremendous production, probably close to 75 percent of production," Gottwald said.

Bill Moraitis is with F1-K9.

With funding from a USDA grant, the retired Volusia County sheriff’s deputy and his team of trainers have put their experience to use, spending years to research how dogs can help literally sniff out citrus disease. 

“The dogs’ olfactor senses are thousands of times better than what a human can smell,” Moraitis said.

"If we can have an early enough detection methodology, we can find the disease and get rid of it before it takes off, and essentially keep the industry healthy,” Gottwald said.

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