Save the Guac: What Would Cinco de Mayo Day Be Without Guacamole?

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Learn how to make delicious fresh guacamole as demonstrated by Chef Justin Timineri. Also learn about a plant disease called laurel wilt that could threaten the health of avocado trees. Save the Guac!


If you love guacamole, try this recipe and visit to learn what you can do to help stop a disease that is threatening avocado trees.

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Florida Agriculture Commissioner Charles H. Bronson, like many people, enjoys fresh Florida guacamole and wants the public to know that a plant disease called laurel wilt is threatening one of its host trees, the Florida avocado. The Department’s Division of Plant Industry has created a Save the Guac campaign to educate the public about this disease and the importance of Florida’s avocado industry.

As Cinco de Mayo approaches, kitchens are abuzz dicing tomatoes and cilantro, squeezing limes and slicing up fresh Florida avocados. The Department’s Executive Chef Justin Timineri has a guacamole recipe that is hard to beat. Find the recipe and a video demonstration on how to prepare it at or view the demonstration video on YouTube.
At the same site, find information on laurel wilt disease and what the public can do to prevent the spread of this disease.

Laurel wilt is a destructive disease of redbay, avocado and other trees in the laurel family. The disease is caused by a fungus that infects the sapwood of host trees, restricting the flow of water, causing the leaves to wilt and the trees to die. The fungus is carried into trees by the non-native redbay ambrosia beetle, which was first detected in the U.S. near Savannah, Georgia in 2002 and subsequently found in Duval County, Florida in 2005. Laurel wilt has caused high levels of mortality in redbay trees in South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, and has affected several other hosts including sassafras and avocado.
Florida Agriculture Statistics reports that Florida has over 6,773 production acres of avocados in South Florida. Florida’s avocado industry and backyard avocado trees are healthy; however, if a disease like laurel wilt were to take hold, the estimated replacement cost of commercial and backyard avocados in Florida is $423 million – a cost agriculture officials and the industry want to avoid.
Guacamole lovers need to unite to stop the disease before it reaches Florida’s avocado groves.

The public can help prevent the spread of the redbay ambrosia beetle and laurel wilt disease by following these simple suggestions:

Become familiar with the signs of laurel wilt disease and redbay ambrosia beetle and be on the lookout for evidence of the pest/disease on your trees.

Use local firewood only – Do not transport firewood from other states because destructive pests and diseases, such as redbay ambrosia beetle and laurel wilt, can hitchhike into Florida on infested firewood. (View firewood video at the savetheguac website.)

Do not transport host trees (redbay, swamp bay, avocado, sassafras, pondspice, pondberry and others in the Lauraceae family) unless purchased from a registered nursery.

People who suspect their trees may be infected with laurel wilt, or think they have found a redbay ambrosia beetle, are urged to contact the DPI helpline at 888-397-1517.

So on this Cinco de Mayo, prepare your favorite guacamole dish and ponder life without it. You will be sure to take responsible steps to prevent anything that threatens the health of Florida avocado trees. Join the cause, visit where you can sign up to receive a free Save the Guac bumper sticker, and view Chef Justin’s guacamole recipe and video demonstration. You can also find the video demonstration on YouTube.


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Denise Feiber

Ellen Dyck
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