Deadly plant disease threatens $250M rose business

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NEW ORLEANS (AP) - An incurable plant disease is causing major damage to the $250-million-a-year rose business in the U.S.

Dr. David Byrne of Texas A&M University is leading a $4.6 million multistate project to study the virus that causes rose rosette disease and the wind-blown mite that spreads it, and to find roses that aren't susceptible. He says one rose producer spent $1 million getting rid of it, and some smaller nurseries have had to destroy 10,000 plants.

The virus has been found in at least 30 states . In Texas, the Fort Worth Botanic Garden removed 2,000 plants. The virus recently spread in northwest Louisiana, in the same city as the American Rose Society 's gardens: the largest U.S. park devoted to the national flower.

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