You see the stands by the side of the road all over our state around this time of year. The hand made banners and signs proudly proclaim ' Ruston Peaches' for sale. They are some of the sweetest juiciest peaches in the country and they mean big business for our agriculture community. However, things are not quite as peachy for the peach industry as you might wish they were.

The issue at hand for Louisiana peach growers in the Ruston area is soil born disease that is killing of trees by the hundreds. The really sad part about this particular malady is that there is a pesticide that can control the disease and keep it from spreading. However, that pesticide was banned by the federal government and farmers are no longer allowed to use it.

Joe Mitcham of Mitcham Farms, the state's largest peach producers told the Louisiana Radio Network,

"We're down to about 20% of my trees, probably 2000-2200 in that range,but the trees we have this year are in really good production."

Mitcham also indicated that if he is unable to do something about this disease that spreads from tree to tree via the root systems. He will eventually lose all of his trees and be forced to go out of business. He did say that companies are looking into a disease resistant root stock but even in the best case scenarios those trees won't be available for several years.