Fresno County on Alert for ACP
|Assemblyman Jim Patterson
Assemblyman Jim Patterson hosted the Citrus Industry Town Hall this morning at the Fresno County Farm Bureau office to discuss the current state of the Asian Citrus Psyllid presence in California, the quarantine situation, how Fresno County is preparing for the possible migration of ACP into the county, and how agencies, growers, and the state and federal governments are cooperating to control its spread in California.
Over forty people attended the meeting, including growers, PCAs, local government and industry leaders, researchers, and media.
Fresno County is the fourth largest citrus-producing county in California, having dropped in status due to freeze-damaged mandarin acreage last year, according to Les Wright, Fresno County Ag Commissioner.
“ACP spread is one of the most serious problems facing valley citrus growers especially those in the south valley,” said Wright.
To date, all contiguous counties in southern California are under CDFA Quarantine, as well the Porterville area of Tulare County, to prevent movement of ACP-ridden leaves and plant debris and unsanitary ag equipment into non-infested regions of the state and to bide time for agency mobilization and industry research to catch up. The effort also aims to prevent ACP from finding HLB-infected trees and spreading the incurable disease.
Though presently under quarantine, the effort in southern California to stop the spread of ACP, it was emphasized, was NOT a failure; rather, it bought precious time for other regions to prepare, and while many treatments did not work, other regions are learning from their attempts.
|Dr. Beth Grafton-Cardwell
Dr. Beth Grafton-Cardwell, UC IPM Specialist and Research Entomologist, recently studied ACP found in Texas and Florida and reported that local agencies here are following Florida’s lead in organizing grower groups and local neighbors to treat their trees simultaneously.
She said that researchers are looking for natural processes, among others, to control ACP populations.
Victoria Hornbaker, CDFA, Program Coordinator, gave the example of Dr. Mark Hoddle, Extension Specialist and Director of the Center for Invasive Species Research at UC Riverside, who is working towards the massive release of Tamarixia radiata wasps, a natural predator of ACP, found in Pakistan. In studies of small releases of T. radiata, the wasps were found outside the areas where they were released—a good indication of their hardiness and potential effectiveness against ACP.
While there is no cure for HLB thus far, researchers are looking at altering the ACP so it cannot pick up HLB disease, inserting a gene so it cannot carry HLB, and creating disease-resistant plants.
Organic insecticides against ACP are short-lived, so they must be applied more frequently than their conventional counterparts. Thus, organic farmers must be more aggressive in their treatments.
UC Davis is studying new efficacious organic products.
If an organic farm were in an eradication zone, the grower would be required to use conventional products, losing organic status for one year. Without compliance, the property would be abated.
It is recommended that when a grower sprays for a different pest, they should choose a product that also works on ACP.
Eradication and management strategies differ according to season.
Product spraying frequency and product choice are delicate decisions so as not to cause resistance in ACP.
Expert dog sniffers can detect the presence of ACP, and have detected infested shipments that were subsequently destroyed. California is vigilant at all points of entry including airports, border traffic, and ports. Not all counties have expert canines; however, Fresno has one such specialist. The USDA also provides dogs, one of which works in Fresno.
Take Action Now
Start sampling now.
Do not rely on (color-saturated) yellow-sticky traps for detection. Remember that psyllids are attracted to citrus trees, which have both color and scent.
ACP likes an orchard’s edges, so test for their presence around a field’s perimeter, as well as down the center for good measure.
Go to the following websites for information, quarantine maps, crop protection cost-effectiveness:
In the event a homeowner or grower suspects ACP on their property, take the bug, if possible, put it in alcohol, and contact the Fresno County Farm Bureau; Sylvie Robillard, Fresno County Grower Liaison; the CDFA Hotline, 1-800-481-1899 or your local Ag commissioner (if outside Fresno County).
Joel Nelson, California Citrus Mutual, President, commented, “If it weren’t serious, it would be exciting” due to the talent of the people involved in the fight to suppress the ACP and thereby avoid HLB disaster in the state. With southern California producing $750,000 and the Central Valley producing $1.5 billion in citrus, California is the largest citrus-producing state in the country, providing 85% of the country’s fresh citrus.
Stopping the spread of ACP and eradicating Huanglongbing (HLB) is among the top five priorities of the USDA. The federal government has contributed $10 million to the California program toward that end.
A coalition of groups is conducting a public relations campaign starting in southern California that includes distribution of bookmarks and brochures (in several languages) that have a little magnifying glass inside to detect ACP; enlisting legislators and box stores, among others, to help spread information; and launching a PSA next week featuring Citrus Grower Kevin Severns speaking about this crucial situation.There are 6 versions of the PSA on CCM’s YouTube Channel.
Nelson emphasized that every step this coalition in California takes is globally unprecedented. And the government is flexible and ready to adopt new strategies; using this effort in California as a model for other programs planned to eradicate foreign invading pests.
Assemblyman Jim Patterson concluded by acknowledging, “Agriculture is more than a livelihood; it‘s a life.”