More Cooperation Regarding Citrus Health and HLB Disease

Citrus Health Response Program Discussed at UC Riverside

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

California Ag Today recently interviewed Joel Nelsen, president and CEO of the California Citrus Mutual. He spoke on his recent trip to UC Riverside about the Citrus Health Response Program. While speaking with USDA, they discussed the game plans that will be used to battle Huanglongbing (HLB) disease, which is vectored by an invasive insect called Asian Citrus Psyllid.

“We got into it, which I thought was an interesting discussion. What would growers do if in fact HLB was discovered in a grower’s orchard and what would the be obligated to do,” Nelsen said.

“And what came out of that discussion is that we are going to work with the USDA. We’re going to develop a war game scenario. We’re going to bring people into a room and start talking about it, just to see what the reactions were, and we’re going to challenge these individuals to do what needs to be done,” Nelsen explained. “We’re just going to have to figure out how best to address the industry and areas like this.”

Nelsen said that they discussed whether or not there was enough being done in that partnership with the homeowner. “We came to the conclusion that no, quite frankly the industry has been carrying that ball and that USDA and CDFA can do a little bit more in their role as government”

Tree removal and beneficial insects were also discussed.

“We talked about the continued trees being removed, and everybody was satisfied about that. We talked about whether or not beneficial insects can help in this situation. Surprisingly, the answer was pretty much no,” Nelsen explained. “Beneficial releases may help in an urban environment to a small extent, but from a commercial standpoint, it doesn’t help. So there were a lot of discussions, some debate, and most of all, some camaraderie that was developed as far as going forward.”

Nearly 400 trees in front and back yards of homes have been destroyed due to testing positive to HLB disease.

“They’re all in a clearly defined geographical area in Southern California,” Nelsen said. “So what we have is a lot of backyard adventures that bring in rootstock that unfortunately was diseased, and as a result of that, those individuals are the ones that are seeing problems associated with their own trees.”

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

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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.