Citrus Growers’ Response To Huanglongbing

Industry Committee Endorses Voluntary Best Practices

News Release

To provide California citrus growers with a strong toolbox of science-supported strategies and tactics to protect their orchards from Huanglongbing (HLB), the Citrus Pest & Disease Prevention Committee endorsed a set of best practices for growers to voluntarily employ in response to HLB in California.

Adult Asian citrus psyllid, Huanglongbing
Adult Asian citrus psyllid (Photo by J. Lewis). Courtesy of Citrus Research Board

The recommendations—which were developed based on a grower’s proximity to an HLB detection—represent the most effective tools known to the citrus industry at this time and are meant to supplement the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s required regulatory response. The best practices were developed by a task force consisting of growers from various regions across the state and scientists, all of whom were nominated by the Citrus Pest & Disease Prevention Committee.

Voluntary best practices were developed for growers in the four following scenarios:

  • Scenario 1: Orchards outside of an HLB quarantine area
  • Scenario 2: Orchards located between one and five miles of an HLB detection (within an HLB quarantine area)
  • Scenario 3: Orchards within one mile of an HLB detection but not known to be infected
  • Scenario 4: Orchards with HLB

The best practices vary in each scenario but all address: awareness, scouting for the Asian citrus psyllid, controlling Asian citrus psyllids with treatments, protecting young trees and replants, employing barriers or repellents, visually surveying for HLB, testing psyllid and plant material for HLB using a direct testing method like polymerase chain reaction (PCR), and tending to trees’ root health. The voluntary best practices in all four scenarios can be found at CitrusInsider.org.

While HLB has not yet been detected in a commercial grove in California, the disease continues to spread throughout residential communities of Los Angeles, Orange, and Riverside counties. HLB has infected more than 1,400 citrus trees, and 1,003 square miles are currently in an HLB quarantine area.

“Our state’s citrus industry has held the line against HLB since the first detection seven years ago. We should commend our efforts but must not forget the devastating impact HLB could have on our orchards and our livelihood,” said Jim Gorden, chair of the Citrus Pest & Disease Prevention Program and a citrus grower in Tulare County.

“We know the cost to manage the Asian citrus psyllid is far less than any potential costs or loss to the industry should HLB take hold throughout our state. These voluntary best practices are meant to serve as a box of tools so growers can use as many as are feasible for their operation in order to limit the spread of the psyllid and disease,” said Keith Watkins, chair of the task force that developed the best practices and vice president of farming at Bee Sweet Citrus.

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.

Bee Sweet Citrus Joins National Campaign to Support Healthy Eating

Bee Sweet Creates Everyday Healthy Eating Habits

News Release Edited By Patrick Cavanaugh

For the third consecutive year, Bee Sweet Citrus is eager to help kick off the Power Your Lunchbox Promise with Produce for Kids. The Power Your Lunchbox Promise, a national campaign, aims to encourage families and their children to eat healthier lunches, afterschool snacks and everyday dinners.

“Bee Sweet Citrus is very excited to take part in such an amazing, health-oriented campaign,” said Bee Sweet Citrus Director of Communications Monique Bienvenue. “For the past five years, Produce for Kids has done an amazing job of sharing healthy tips and recipes with families and educators. We’re eager to see how our combined efforts can help encourage healthy habits at home and in the classroom.”

The Power Your Lunchbox campaign  ends on September 23rd. Throughout the campaign, families will be encouraged to take an online promise that supports healthy eating at home and at school. For every promise made, sponsors of the Power Your Lunchbox Promise will make a collective $1 donation to Feeding America programs that support families and children.

In addition to the online promotion, Produce for Kids will be marketing register dietitian-approved recipes and nutrition tips on their online and social media platforms. Supporters are encouraged to use the #PowerYourLunchbox hashtag throughout the campaign to help spread awareness on their own social media accounts as well.

“As we celebrate the 5th year of the Power Your Lunchbox Promise, and over 1 million meals donated to Feeding America through the program, we could not have made such an impact without the support of passionate partners like Bee Sweet Citrus,” said Amber Bloom, the digital marketing manager for Produce for Kids. “Together, we’re creating a healthier generation one promise, lunchbox and meal donated at a time.”