CA Citrus Growers Work Hard to Prevent HLB Devastation

Learning From the Florida Industry as to How Bad it Can Be

By Mikenzi Meyers, Associate Editor

The severe effects of the Huanglongbing (HLB) disease on Florida citrus is cause for California growers to take important preventative measures to ensure the safety of their trees. Keith Watkins, vice president of outside operations for Bee Sweet Citrus, has seen the damage firsthand and has been hard at work to protect his trees.

“I’ve been to Florida, and I’ve seen how devastating the disease can be,” he said. “We have to spend money now to basically prevent that from happening to us.”

There are currently around 1100 trees that have tested positive for HLB in the Orange County and Anaheim-Garden Grove areas, but they are mainly backyard citrus trees. Luckily, Watkins said that the disease has not yet been traced in commercial operations.

Keeping HLB out of commercial growth is the biggest challenge growers face. There is not yet a cure for the disease, but according to Watkins, growers can help prevent it from reaching their crops by staying on top of killing psyllids when spotted. “We have to stay diligent. Our future really is maintaining a psyllid free population,” he said.

Protecting California Citrus Industry

State’s Citrus Industry at a Crossroads

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

Karen Ross, Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, told California Ag Today recently that the fight to protect the California citrus industry from Citrus Greening is ongoing with many moving parts.

“We are working closely with both with USDA and county ag commissioners to protect our important citrus industry,” she said. “And funding from our federal agency partners is important in the fight.”

“There is a strong sense of urgency, and I honestly feel we’re at a significant crossroads because of the most recent Huanglongbing infected tree finds in Southern California that keep the infected Asian Citrus Psyllid numbers up,” Ross explained.

She noted that the biggest challenge is citrus in the state’s urban areas.

“The beauty of citrus is that nearly every Californian has a citrus plant of some kind. That’s also one of our biggest challenges right now, because we’re very dependent on our urban residential neighbors to allow inspectors to repeatedly go to their door, in order to take samples, and then possibly having to go back and pull trees.

Ross said that the state has dedicated full time leadership to help fight HLB. There’s a lot of moving parts in the program.

“It’s gotten very large, and we’re going do whatever we need to do to make sure California citrus has a long, long part of our history and our economy,” she said.

Ross noted that the Asian Citrus Psyllid isn’t the only pest concerning California agriculture.

“Besides our big Asian citrus psyllid program, we have ongoing medfly infestations, several fruit fly infestations, and light broth apple moth infestation, and we are working on Japanese beetle eradication programs,” she said.

BREAKING NEWS: ACP QUARANTINES IN MERCED AND MONTEREY COUNTIES

ASIAN CITRUS PSYLLID (ACP) QUARANTINES IN MERCED AND MONTEREY COUNTIES

Quarantines are now in place in both Merced and Monterey Counties due to recent Asian citrus psyllid (ACP) detections.  One ACP was detected near the City of Merced in Merced County and two ACP in one trap within the City of Salinas in Monterey County.

The quarantine zone in Merced County measures 123 square miles, bordered on the north by Kenney Avenue; on the south by W Dickenson Ferry Road; on the west by Shaffer Road; and on the east by

SaveOurCitrus
SAVE OUR CITRUS app is a free USDA iPhone to report and identify the four leading citrus diseases: citrus greening, citrus canker, citrus black spot and sweet orange scab. Report your symptoms, upload a photo and citrus experts will respond. ACP

E Yosemite Avenue. Monterey County’s quarantine measures 111 square miles and is bordered on the north by Pesante Road; on the south by the Salinas River; on the west by Castroville Road; and on the east by Gabilan Creek. The quarantine maps for both Merced and Monterey Counties are available online at: www.cdfa.ca.gov/go/acp-maps. Please check this link for future quarantine expansions in these counties, should they occur. Quarantines in new counties will be announced separately.

The quarantine prohibits the movement of citrus and curry leaf tree nursery stock, including all plant parts except fruit, out of the quarantine area and requires that all citrus fruit be cleaned of leaves and stems prior to moving out of the quarantine area.  An exception may be made for nursery stock and budwood grown in USDA-approved structures which are designed to keep ACP and other insects out.  Residents with backyard citrus trees in the quarantine area are asked not to transport or send citrus fruit or leaves, potted citrus trees, or curry leaves from the quarantine area.

ACP county-wide quarantines are now in place in Imperial, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Tulare and Ventura Counties, with portions of Alameda, Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Merced, Monterey, San Benito, San Francisco, San Joaquin, San Luis Obispo, San Mateo, Santa Clara, and Stanislaus counties also under quarantine.

The ACP is an invasive species of grave concern because it can carry the disease huanglongbing (HLB), also known as citrus greening.  All citrus and closely related species, such as curry leaf trees, are susceptible hosts for both the insect and disease.  There is no cure for HLB and once a tree becomes infected, the diseased tree will decline in health and produce bitter, misshaped fruit until it dies.  In California, HLB has only been detected on residential properties in Los Angeles County.  This plant disease does not affect human health.
Residents in the area who think they may have seen ACP or symptoms of HLB on their trees are urged to call CDFA’s Pest Hotline at 1-800-491-1899 or your local agricultural commissioner’s office (Merced County (209) 385-7431; Monterey County (831) 759-7325).  For more information on the ACP and HLB, please visit: www.cdfa.ca.gov/go/acp.

UPDATE! Expanded ACP Quarantine

UPDATE! Expanded ACP Quarantine in Stanislaus and Merced Counties

Two ACPs Found in City of Turlock

Stanislaus County has been placed under quarantine for the Asian citrus psyllid (ACP) following the detection of two ACPs within the City of Turlock.  The expanded ACP quarantine also includes a portion of northern Merced County along its border with Stanislaus County.  The quarantine zone measures 101 square miles, bordered on the north by East Service Road; on the south by August Avenue; on the west by Blaker Road; and on the east by North Hickman Road.  The quarantine map for Stanislaus and Merced is available online at: www.cdfa.ca.gov/go/acp-maps.

The quarantine prohibits the movement of citrus and curry leaf tree nursery stock, including all plant parts except fruit, out of the quarantine area and requires that all citrus fruit be cleaned of leaves and stems prior to moving out of the quarantine area.  An exception may be made for nursery stock and budwood grown in USDA-approved structures which are designed to keep ACP and other insects out.  Residents with backyard citrus trees in the quarantine area are asked not to transport or send citrus fruit or leaves, potted citrus trees, or curry leaves from the quarantine area.

ACP county-wide quarantines are now in place in Imperial, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Tulare and Ventura Counties, with portions of Alameda, Fresno, Kern, Madera, Merced, San Benito, San Francisco, San Joaquin, San Luis Obispo, San Mateo, Santa Clara, and Stanislaus counties also under quarantine.

The ACP is an invasive species of grave concern because it can carry the disease huanglongbing (HLB), also known as citrus greening.  All citrus and closely related species, such as curry leaf trees, are susceptible hosts for both the insect and disease.  There is no cure once the tree becomes infected; the diseased tree will decline in health and produce bitter, misshaped fruit until it dies.  In California, HLB has only been detected in 2012 and 2015 on residential properties in Los Angeles County.  This plant disease does not affect human health.

Residents in the area who think they may have seen ACP or symptoms of HLB on their trees are urged to call CDFA’s Pest Hotline at 1-800-491-1899 or your local agricultural commissioner’s office (Stanislaus County (209) 525-4730; Merced County (209) 385-7431).  For more information on the ACP and HLB, please visit: www.cdfa.ca.gov/go/acp.