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

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.”

 

Citrus Growers Prepare For Sub Freezing Temps

Central Valley Citrus Growers Prepare for Cold Weather 

News Release

Central Valley citrus growers are anticipating subfreezing temperatures over the weekend. Forecasts show colder temperatures throughout the Valley Friday evening through Sunday morning, with the coldest areas expected to dip into the upper 20s and possibly the mid-20s.

Growers are prepared to implement frost protection measures if temperatures drop below freezing. This includes the use of irrigation water and wind machines to elevate grove temperatures by 3 to 5 degrees, thus mitigating the potential for frost to occur.

Generally, navel varieties can tolerate temperatures as low as 27 degrees without risk for damage, whereas Mandarin varieties tend to be susceptible to damage at temperatures below 32. The key factor is the duration of time at or below these thresholds. The potential for damage increases when cold temperatures persist for several hours.

At this time, forecasts do not suggest a critical freeze event will occur this weekend; however, growers will certainly be watching the temperature closely and activating freeze precautions as necessary.

According to the 2017 county crop report data, 90 percent of California’s commercial citrus crop is grown in Madera, Fresno, Tulare, and Kern counties. This represents a total crop value of $3.1 billion. Statewide, citrus is a $3.8 billion crop.

Citrus Research Meeting Focuses on Moving Plant Material

Industry Discusses Strategies in Fighting  Huanglongbing Disease

By Jessica Theisman, Associated Editor

Franco Bernardi, the interim president of the California Citrus Research Board based in Visalia, attended a recent citrus regulatory meeting in Denver, Colorado. He has sat on that board for 27 years and is helping out while a new president is searched for and named.

The CRB just turned 50 years old, and it is all about finding solutions to the trying issues of pests and diseases in California citrus. Bernardi said the meeting was comprehensive in regard to moving plant material between research labs around the country.California citrus

“It was a very good meeting and fortunately it had the right people in the room, which doesn’t always happen when you have a large meeting like that,” Bernardi said.

It is a very complicated subject, but with the regulators, researchers and plant breeders, it was a good meeting. These decisions are leading to allow genetic material to be moved from one state to the other.

A lot of this surrounds huanglongbing (HLB) genetic material which is causing concern, but Bernardi said there was a consensus on how to do it.

“The regulators are now going to have to put some teeth in the regulation,” he said.

Some regulations may even need to be changed. Many states have the same safeguards. One thing that came out of the meeting is some of these processes and protections of moving material from one place to the other are already in place.

No End in Sight for Stopping Huanglongbing Disease

Millions Spent to Fight Huanglongbing, with No Cure

By Mikenzi Meyers, Associate Editor

The California citrus industry—made up of 3,500 growers in Ventura, Riverside, and the San Joaquin Valley, and encompassing 70-75 packing houses—is an agricultural facet that continues to make California a fresh citrus powerhouse. Joel Nelsen, President and CEO of the California Citrus Mutual, spoke to California Ag Today recently on the industry-wide issue of Huanglongbing Disease—a deadly disease that has threatened the industry in every part of the state.

“For our industry, it’s a combination of enthusiasm, unity, frustration, and aggravation because we continue to fight the spread of the disease in Southern California.”

“We’re continually frustrated because science has not yet found a cure. We’ve given the scientific community an average of thirty to forty million dollars a year to find a cure for this disease.”

In a recent study done by the University of California, Riverside, economic outputs of the citrus industry is roughly $7 billion.

“It’s an economic engine for certain parts of this state. Lose it, and it’s not a positive alternative, that’s for sure,” Nelsen said.

IR-4 Program Trying to Help Florida Citrus Industry Due to HLB

IR-4 Researchers Control Material to Help Citrus Industy

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

Jerry Barron, executive director of the IR-4 Project at Rutgers University in New Jersey spoke to California Ag Today recently about his program.

A major priority with the IR-4 Project is the prioritization of projects that need to be done to find crop protection products for crops such as citrus. Among the urgent challenges for citrus is the control of the Asian Citrus Psyllid (ACP) which vectors Huanglongbing (HLB)—a fatal disease to citrus. Barron spoke about the disease, which has devastated Florida citrus growers and all parts of the citrus economy in the state.

“HLB is devastating Florida citrus growers and the economy in Florida. It’s about a billion dollars of lost production, which is affecting local communities, food processors, and the people who are harvesting the fruit,” Barron said. “It is totally disrupting the whole economic base of certain areas.”

Asian Citrus Psyllid Yellow Trap (Source: Citrus Pest & Disease Prevention Program)

“So what we’re trying to do is work with the people in Florida, to provide them some tools, not only to control the Psyllid which transmits the disease but also provide them some tools to help control the disease once it’s infected the plant.

“At this point, it’s very difficult because certain crop protection products are just not available, but we’re trying to find these magic bullets to truly give them a solution for this devastating problem,” he said.

Study Forecasts Cost of Regulations on California Citrus Industry

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.

California Water Usage

Joel Nelsen, President of California Citrus Mutual on Water Usage 

 

By Courtney Steward with California Ag Today

 

Joel Nelsen, president of California Citrus Mutual (CCM), commented on the recent upsurge in negative public opinion on the state’s agricultural water usage, “They don’t want the attention focused on their cherished agenda item, which is environmentalism.”

“There are good reasons to protect the environment,” Nelsen explained, “we don’t want salt-water intrusion in the Delta and we don’t want fish to become extinct. However, we do want a realistic approach to solving environmental problems starting with science-based assessments, partial limits and sustainable solutions.”

Nelsen said “’sustainability’ varies depending on who you talk to. “Ask a farmer and they will tell you that sustainability is about producing a legacy, ensuring that future generations too will be able to cultivate a viable crop on the same land. Sustainability is about learning from the past to prepare for the future and fulfilling an inherent responsibility to the environment and to society, working with the land in order to feed the world today and in the future. The California citrus industry has not only sustained, but thrived for over 125 years.”

“So, how do we solve this complex issue of a limited water supply for competing needs with solutions that deliver sustainable results with accountability from all parties involved?  Nelsen stated, “You want a thorough assessment of the current situation; are our current solutions solving our water problems?”

“When you talk about restoring the San Joaquin River,” Nelsen explained, “our current solution is not biologically viable. The smelt population is not recovering; it continues to decline. Let’s honestly ask ourselves ‘is this solution effective or is it time to quit wasting money, quit wasting water and try another science-based solution?”

CA Drought Devastates State’s Citrus Industry – June 6 in Bakersfield Orchard

California Citrus Mutual and Senators Fuller and Vidak to hold Press Conference June 6, 11:00 a.m. 

Please join California Citrus Mutual, Senator Andy Vidak and Senator Jean Fuller for a press conference on the current water crisis and its devastating impact to the Central Valley’s $1.5 billion citrus industry and local communities.

Senator Jean Fuller
Senator Jean Fuller
Senator Andy Vidak
Senator Andy Vidak

The event is on Friday, June 6 at 11:00 a.m.in a Bakersfield citrus grove that is being pulled out of production due to zero surface water allocation [21662 Bena Rd., Bakersfield, CA]. The scene of removed groves is, unfortunately, becoming a familiar one throughout the Valley as citrus growers are faced with zero water allocation for the first time in the Central Valley Water Project’s history.

“The situation our industry is now faced with is not the result of a drought,” says CCM President Joel Nelsen. “It is the result of inaction and indifference by state and federal regulators who have time and again demonstrated that the production of food and fiber is not a priority.”

California Citrus Mutual estimates that nearly 50,000 acres of citrus will receive zero water allocation this year. “The loss of citrus production in the Central Valley will undoubtedly have a ripple effect that will be felt in many local communities,” continues Nelsen.

“Due to the zero water allocation, thousands of acres of citrus trees have already been destroyed resulting in higher food prices and lost jobs,” says Senator Fuller. “Now is the time for regulators to act on behalf of the farmers and residents of the Valley, get the water moving to where it is needed most, and stop the planned removal of thousands of more acres of citrus.”

California Citrus Mutual President Joel Nelsen
California Citrus Mutual President Joel Nelsen

“The citrus industry is an economic driver in the Central Valley,” says Senator Vidak. “The loss of prime citrus production as a result of zero water allocation will have a lasting and devastating impact on jobs and our communities. This is not simply an agricultural problem; the impact will be felt by each and every one of us if water is not made available to our Valley.”

Speaking at the press conference will be CCM President Joel Nelsen, Senator Andy Vidak, and Senator Jean Fuller along with Valley citrus growers who have been directly impacted by this water crisis.

 

(Photo credit: California Citrus Mutual)