Quarantines in Place to Prevent ACP Spread

Quarantines Painful For Some Growers

By Mikenzi Meyers, Associate Editor

It’s been a tough road for citrus growers since the discovery of the Asian Citrus Psyllid (ACP) back in 2012. Those affected have been forced to quarantine their crops, a task that Beth Grafton-Cardwell, director of Lindcove Research Extension Center in Tulare and research entomologist with UC Riverdale, said can be difficult.

“There’s been a lot of discussion about the quarantines because they’ve been painful for some growers who have low psyllid numbers to have to treat them and move their fruit to other zones,” Cardwell explained.

Beth Grafton-Cardwell

The growing concerns have led to continuous research regarding whether or not the zones should be changed.

There have been more than 1,100 citrus trees that have tested positive for HLB. There have been more than 230 positive finds of the psyllid, and although this sounds like a big number, Cardwell said its actually normal due to how difficult the disease is to detect.

“We can’t tell that the tree is infected early on because a localized infection might be on one stem of the entire tree, and it might take a year before it moves throughout the tree,” she said.

Right now, quadrant sampling is being done, where four quadrants of the tree are sampled for the disease. Current samples are showing that one in four quadrants are coming back positive.

“It’s finding the trees that are infected that’s really difficult, and meanwhile, the psyllid is spreading, spreading, spreading the disease,” Cardwell said.

 

More information can be found at this link:

https://maps.cdfa.ca.gov/WeeklyACPMaps/HLBWeb/HLB_Treatments.pdf

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Casey Creamer Named New President/CEO of California Citrus Mutual

New Role Effective Feb. 1

News Release

 

CCM appoints current Executive Vice President and veteran agriculture industry representative.  Current President, Joel Nelsen to step down after 37 years at the helm and assume new role within the organization.

 

The California Citrus Mutual (CCM) Board of Directors has named current Executive Vice President Casey Creamer as its new President and CEO effective February 1st.  Creamer came to CCM last February after a national search process to eventually assume the role of President.  He succeeds Joel Nelsen, who has guided CCM for the last 37 years.

Huanglongbing
Joel Nelsen semi-retires after 37 years at the Helm.

“The citrus industry is very fortunate to have had an individual of Joel’s caliber the last 37 years.  That kind of loyalty is not only rare, it’s unheard of,” Board Chairman Curt Holmes said.  “Joel has taken a relatively small industry and has given us a huge voice.  We’ve faced many challenges over the years and have addressed them head on with his energy and passion leading the way.  We are incredibly grateful to him for his service and we appreciate his willingness to stay engaged in the industry.

“We are also very excited to have Casey on board as our new President and CEO,” continued Holmes.  “The Board conducted an extensive search process and interviewed viable candidates from across the country.  We ultimately found the right person in our own backyard.  His prior experience working for a sister commodity organization and his work representing growers on water issues made him an ideal selection.  Over the last year, his knowledge of the citrus industry has greatly expanded, and he has quickly become a valuable member of the CCM team on behalf of the industry.”

“I’m humbled by the opportunity to serve,” Creamer said.  “I’ve been extremely fortunate to work with some of the best leaders over my career and have nothing but respect and admiration for the job that Joel has done advancing issues important to the citrus industry.  I’m looking forward to carrying on the many successful traditions at CCM, while constantly seeking new ideas and pathways to address the significant challenges we face.  With the enthusiasm and commitment that exists in this industry, I am confident that together, we tackle any obstacle thrown our way.”

 

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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.

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Farmers protect citrus crop from freezing weather

By Steve Adler; Ag Alert

San Joaquin Valley citrus, which last year suffered multimillion-dollar losses due to freeze, escaped a similar fate at the turn of the new year, even though temperatures dropped to well below freezing.

The entire state felt the impact of a cold front that moved through California from Canada, and it was a particular concern in the citrus belt that extends north from Kern County to Madera County.

Cold temperatures prevailed throughout citrus-growing areas for six nights, prompting growers to activate their frost-protection measures. California Citrus Mutual said groves in Riverside, Kern, Tulare, Fresno and Madera counties all experienced temperatures dropping to 26-29 degrees for short durations.

CCM President Joel Nelsen said there could be “isolated areas of damage” to mandarin groves, particularly to trees and fruit farthest from wind machines, but he said any losses “should not affect volume or price significantly.”

The two primary citrus crops grown in the citrus belt are navel oranges and mandarins. Of the two, navels are more cold-tolerant and typically become vulnerable to frost only when temperatures drop below 28 degrees for several hours or for several nights in a row. Mandarins, on the other hand, can suffer freeze damage once temperatures dip below 32 degrees.

Any damaged fruit that won’t pass quality standards to go into the fresh market would go to processing, said Bob Blakely, CCM vice president.

The current citrus harvest began a few weeks ago, and an estimated 75 percent of the fruit remained on the trees when the cold weather began. Growers use wind machines or irrigation systems, or a combination of both, as frost-protection measures. By irrigating, growers can elevate the ground temperature slightly. Wind machines help to keep the air moving, breaking up pockets of cold air that can create problems.

Citrus Mutual estimated there are more than 22,000 wind machines throughout the citrus belt, most of which operate on propane. The organization estimated Monday that farmers had spent more than $16.5 million on frost-protection measures during the six-night freeze operation.

Given the drought situation, Nelsen said, most growers remained “very judicious” in using groundwater for frost protection.

“Our information is that pumping groundwater has been minimal,” he said.

One of the most water-starved areas is Terra Bella in Tulare County, where many farmers bought emergency water at high prices last summer to keep citrus trees from dying in the drought. Many of those growers have a little bit of that water left, and said they were using it to protect their groves from frost.

“On our farm, we bought some emergency water last summer and we still have some of that available to us until February,” said Roger Everett, a citrus grower in Terra Bella, “so we are using that water that we have left for frost protection. Growers who didn’t buy any of that water probably don’t have any water available for frost protection.”

Everett said it has been his experience that citrus trees are able to tolerate the cold fairly well, but the fruit can be vulnerable. Blakely of CCM agreed with that assessment.

“In California, it is typically a case of lost fruit rather than a killing of the trees,” he said. “Our conditions here in this state are such that in the wintertime we have enough cold temperatures where the trees can go into a quasi-dormancy, where they can withstand quite low temperatures before we have any damage to the fruiting wood.”

The freezing temperatures came just over a year from a December 2013 freeze that caused an estimated $441 million in citrus losses.

Consumer demand for navels has been quite good, bringing “decent” prices to farmers, Blakely said.

“Prices were higher a few weeks ago, but we are starting to see them come off a little bit. Consumer acceptance of the fruit has been very good and demand has remained steady. Movement in the domestic market last year was actually higher than it was in the previous year. In the wintertime, there really aren’t any other producing areas that are providing navel oranges to the United States. However, if there is an event that causes a reduction in the California crop, some of that market could possibly be taken up by some of the European mandarins,” he said.

San Joaquin Valley citrus wasn’t the only crop or region that faced potential crop losses due to the freezing weather. Temperatures of below 32 degrees were recorded in the Coachella Valley as well as the desert areas of the Imperial Valley and Yuma, Ariz. The cold temperatures caused some reported production losses to all varieties of lettuce as well as to spinach. As a result, customers might see some short-term shortages in the next couple weeks, farmers and shippers said.

The Coachella and Imperial valleys and the Yuma area produce about 90 percent of the nation’s winter vegetables. Cold weather slows plant growth and delays the daily harvest activity until the plants begin to thaw in late morning or early afternoon.

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