The spread of Asian Citrus Psyllid (ACP) continues to be a looming threat for Central Valley citrus growers as it vectors Huanglongbing (HLB), a disease that destroys citrus trees. Greg Douhan, a University of California Cooperative Extension Tulare County citrus farm advisor reported to California Ag Today recently that, “There have been so many people onboard really working at this from multiple angles, and we’re in the eradication mode. We want to make sure the insect doesn’t get established in the San Joaquin Valley.”
Douhan said the Valley is on high alert to find ACP in traps. “
If researchers discover a cluster of finds in any particular area, we manage some spray programs and try to get all the growers to do a coordinated effort in order to try to combat it,” he said.
In addition, the SAVE OUR CITRUS app is a free USDA iPhone app 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.
So far, the practices have been working well.
“I think most of the growers are very well informed,” Douhan said, “and are taking this very seriously because it is this their livelihood.”
Citrus Research Board Explains Cost Impacts on Growers
News Release From California Citrus Mutual
New regulations are expected to cost California citrus growers an average of $701 per acre per year, or $203 million annually statewide, according to a new study commissioned by the Citrus Research Board (CRB).
“Compliance with environmental regulations not associated with groundwater sustainability is estimated to increase costs by $17.7 million, or $67 per acre of citrus,” predicts Bruce A. Babcock, Ph.D., a professor in the School of Public Policy at UC Riverside who authored the study. “New labor requirements will increase costs by $112 million, or $357 per acre, once they are all phased in.”
“Babcock has presented a well-researched economic report that shows how new regulations will increasingly impact California’s citrus industry,” said CRB President Gary Schulz.
The report, Impact of Regulations on Production Costs and Competitiveness of the California Citrus Industry, also predicts that controlling the Asian citrus psyllid (ACP) “will increase costs by $65 million, or $248 per acre per year, if controls are extended to all citrus-growing regions.” Compliance training costs are estimated to increase costs by another $29 per acre, or $7.5 million for the state citrus industry.
“As I read and reread Dr. Babcock’s report, two things kept jumping off the page: one, ‘Cost increases borne by California’s citrus but not by … other citrus growing regions decrease the future competitiveness of California’s citrus industry’; and two, ‘… future compliance with these regulations is estimated to increase costs by $203 million, or $701 per acre per year,'” said California Citrus Mutual President Joel Nelsen. “When the cost of citrus at store level gets too expensive, consumers look for lower priced fruit. This UCR report paints a clear path for policy makers if their goal is to drive the citrus industry out of California and onto off-shore production areas.”
The 20-page report includes a breakdown of increases in labor costs, including California’s minimum hourly wage increases, which are scheduled to rise in annual increments to $15 over the next four years. The report also covers the projected cost increases of recent state legislation dealing with paid sick leave, payment rates for rest and recovery periods, overtime and workers compensation.
The section on insecticide treatment addresses grower cost of spraying for ACP, even though the severity of the problem currently differs greatly in various areas of the state. If ACP establishes itself in all citrus regions in the state, which the report says is “almost inevitable,” control efforts would amount to $39.5 million per year, according to Babcock. This would be in addition to the state-mandated tarping of fruit that is transported to packinghouses, at a cost of approximately $9 million per year.
According to the report, The Food Safety Modernization Act, which was passed in 2011 and is still being implemented, will not require major changes for growers who are already GFSI-certified (Global Food Safety Initiative compliant).
The impact of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) is hard to predict, according to Babcock. “It will not be possible to calculate the impact of SGMA until each basin’s groundwater sustainability plans have been finalized,” he states. “Without new surface water supplies, it seems inevitable that some farmland that currently relies on groundwater will need to be fallowed to balance withdrawals with recharge rates.”
Babcock, a Fellow of the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, has won numerous awards for his applied policy research. He received a Ph.D. in Agricultural and Resource Economics from UC Berkeley, and Master’s and Bachelor’s degrees from UC Davis.
The CRB administers the California Citrus Research Program, the grower-funded and grower-directed program established in 1968 under the California Marketing Act, as the mechanism enabling the state’s citrus producers to sponsor and support needed research. The full report on the Impact of Regulations on Production Costs and Competitiveness of the California Citrus Industry, as well as more information about the Citrus Research Board, may be read at www.citrusresearch.org.
Critical ACP, HLB Funding Comes Only After Industry Helps Itself
By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director
State Citrus Mutuals in California, Texas and Florida are diligently working in Washington, D.C., for $10 to 12 million in annual funding to help their citrus regions fight Asian Citrus Psyllid (ACP) infestation and Huanglongbing (HLB), the disease that ACPs vector.
The three Citrus Mutuals have collaborated well for the half dozen years of the American ACP invasion. Initially, the Florida Citrus Mutual team developed the Citrus Health Response Program (CHRP),” said Joel Nelsen, president of California Citrus Mutual.
“They initiated it at a very minor funding level. However we sat down with them and said, ‘Look, this is an opportunity to ensure that all of the U.S. citrus industry can work together to protect itself from Huanglongbing.’ They were gracious enough to say okay. We exerted our leadership because we had people in positions in Washington who could be very beneficial to this,” Nelsen said.
“Initially it was a Florida/California effort. We said we need to double the size of the CHRP program and allocate more dollars to California, some to Texas, and some to Arizona. Now everybody is participating to the extent that they can. Today, it is still a Florida/California effort and a Florida/California-run program in partnership with USDA.
Nelsen said those involved are working hard to protect the citrus industry, and not just chasing a problem. Funding has been helpful to California. Only after the industry does all it can, will the state expect the federal government to help.
“It’s true for all three states’ industries,” Nelsen said. Unfortunately, Texas made a mistake. They did not have a policy in place to immediately remove an HLB-infected tree. As a result, they have an HLB infection spreading.”
“Texas is being adversely impacted on the dollar level. We don’t want to see that industry die, so there is a partnership that does exist on behalf of our colleagues,” Nelsen said. “We can’t afford to make mistakes like that.”
“In order to justify the continued progress of funding on an annual basis we are going to have to continue looking ahead, taking the steps necessary and doing what is needed to protect the citrus industry from the spread of Asian Citrus Psyllid and Huanglongbing.”
“We definitely have to show progress. We can’t ask homeowners to spray their trees if in fact we are not spraying ours. We can’t ask the federal government to continue helping us looking for ACPs if we are not willing to tarp our trucks to stop the spread of it. If we’re not willing to do a coordinated spray program then why should the government help us in finding HLB? If we are allowing snake oil merchants to conduct research projects, why should the federal government fund those?
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
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.
Authorities Need to Monitor ACP Detection, Confronted With Impatient Homeowners
by Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm Director
Joel Nelsen, the president of the Exeter-based California Citrus Mutual noted that most homeowners do not realize how intensive it is for authorities to monitor traps for the Asian Citrus psyllid (ACP) at their homes.
“Most people don’t realize how intrusive this process is,” said Nelsen. “You’ve got a member of the County Ag Commissioner’s office driving down a street. He sees a citrus tree in a front yard, or he can see it’s tall enough in the back. He knocks on the door. The homeowner’s not home, so he has to come back.”
“Later, he comes back to the home and again, knocks on the door and finds that the homeowner is home. He says, ‘Can I put a trap out here to find out if you’ve got the Asian citrus psyllid?’ The homeowner hopefully says, ‘Yes.’ He comes back in two weeks. He looks at the trap. There’s no ACP. He comes back two weeks later, and if the homeowner is home, he looks at the trap,” Nelsen explained.
“It’s a constant bother to that homeowner,” Nelsen said. “Eventually, they find more than one ACP. Then the inspector says: ‘Can I spray a crop protection material on your tree and kill the Asian citrus psyllid?’”
“Hopefully the homeowner says, ‘Yes,’” said Nelsen.
Nelsen noted that the inspector visited five times already within a two month period, and now he needs to do inspect elsewhere, so having that homeowner be amenable to that much intrusiveness is a significant goal.
Nelsen noted, “The consumer education program that forms the partnership between us and them, from our perspective, is vitally important so the consumers understand what Huanglongbing (HLB)—the fatal citrus disease carried by ACP—is”.
“Then when you find Huanglongbing (HLB),” said Nelsen, “and hopefully it’s very minimal, that homeowner is more likely to agree that the tree must be removed. Fortunately, everybody has said: ‘Yes.’”
USDA Targets Citrus Greening with Promising Tools and Long Term Solutions
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced $30 million in funding TODAY for 22 projects to help citrus producers combat Huanglongbing (HLB), also known as citrus greening, a devastating citrus disease that threatens U.S. citrus production. The money will fund promising projects that could offer near-term solutions as well as research funding that may develop long-terms solutions. The promising near-term tools and solutions are funded through the HLB Multiagency Coordination Group while the research projects are funded through the Specialty Crop Research Initiative Citrus Disease Research and Education (CDRE) program, which is made available through the Agricultural Act of 2014 (Farm Bill).
“Our HLB Multi-Agency Coordination Group has worked closely with the citrus industry to select and fund projects that we think will make a real difference for growers against HLB,” said Vilsack. “Funding these projects through cooperative agreements puts us one step closer to putting real tools to fight this disease into the hands of citrus growers.” Vilsack continued, “Through the CDRE research we are announcing today, we are also investing in long-term solutions to diseases that threaten the long-term survival of the citrus industry.”
USDA’s HLB Multi-Agency Coordination Group funded fifteen projects that support thermotherapy, best management practices, early detection, and pest control efforts for a total of more than $7 million. All of them are designed to provide near-term tools and solutions to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced $30 million in funding TODAY for 22 projects to help citrus producers combat Huanglongbing (HLB), also known as citrus greening, a devastating citrus disease that threatens U.S. citrus production. the citrus industry fight HLB. The projects include:
Two projects to provide improved delivery of thermotherapy to HLB infected trees, a promising treatment that has shown to help infected trees regain productivity after treatment. One of these projects will test thermotherapy on a grove-wide scale. since studies have shown heating a tree to 120 degrees for approximately 48 hours can kill the HLB bacterium in the upper part of the tree, allowing the tree to regain productivity. This funding will address the challenge of identifying a quick and practical way for growers to use the technology on a large scale.
Six projects to provide citrus producers with best management practices in Florida citrus groves.
One project will focus on lowering the pH of the irrigation water and soil to strengthen the root systems of citrus trees to help them better tolerate HLB infection.
Three projects will support different combinations of integrated management approaches for sustaining production in trees in different stages of infection.
Two projects will test strategies for preventing tree death due to HLB infection. One of those will field test rootstocks that have shown ability to tolerate HLB infection. The other will use technologies to rapidly propagate the tolerant material for field use by the industry.
Three projects to increase early detection of HLB.
One project will train dogs to detect HLB infected trees. Detector dogs have proven to be highly adept at detecting citrus canker and early results suggest they will be an effective early detection tool for HLB.
One project will develop a root sampling and testing strategy.
One project will compare several promising early detection tests.
Four projects to provide tools to kill the Asian citrus psyllid (ACP), the vector of HLB.
One will produce and release the insect Diaphorencyrtus aligarhensis as a second biological control agent in California.
One project will use a biocontrol fungus to kill ACP adults.
One project will use a trap to attract and kill ACP adults.
One project will increase the use of field cages for the production of the insect Tamarixia radiata in residential areas, especially those that are adjacent to commercial groves in Texas. Tamarixia has already proven to be an effective biological control agent for ACP. Using field cages will enable the wider use of this effective ACP control.
In addition to these projects, USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture funded more than $23 million dollars for research and education project to find lasting solutions to citrus greening disease. Examples of funded projects include developing HLB-resistant citrus cultivars, the development of field detection system for HLB, using heat as a treatment for prolonging productivity in infected citrus trees, creating a new antimicrobial treatment, among others. A fact sheet with a complete list of awardees and project descriptions is available on the USDA website.
Fiscal year 2014 grants have been awarded to two California universities, University of California, Davis, $4.6M and University of California, Riverside, $1.7M. The University of Florida, Gainesville and Kansas State University, Manhattan, are also receiving research awards.
CDRE is a supplement to the Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI). The focus of this year’s funding was specifically on citrus greening disease. Because there are wide differences in the occurrence and progression of HLB among the states, there were regional as well as national priorities for CDRE. These priorities, recommended by the Citrus Disease Subcommittee, fall within four categories: 1) priorities that deal with the pathogen; 2) those that deal with the insect vector; 3) those that deal with citrus orchard production systems; and 4) those that deal with non-agricultural citrus tree owners.
One subcommittee member is Justin D. Brown, Vice President and General Manager, D Bar J Orchards, Inc. in Orange Grove, California.
The Farm Bill builds on historic economic gains in rural America over the past six years, while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for taxpayers. Since enactment, USDA has made significant progress to implement each provision of this critical legislation, including providing disaster relief to farmers and ranchers; strengthening risk management tools; expanding access to rural credit; funding critical research; establishing innovative public-private conservation partnerships; developing new markets for rural-made products; and investing in infrastructure, housing and community facilities to help improve quality of life in rural America. For more information, visit www.usda.gov/farmbill.