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.

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.

New Study Reveals Economic Impact of California Citrus

Citrus Research Board Quantifies California Citrus Industry’s Importance

Edited by Patrick Cavanaugh
      Despite Tulare Mayor Carlton Jones posting a series of anti-ag comments on Facebook, causing a stir in the local community, agriculture provides a huge economic stimulus to his community. In fact, without agriculture in Tulare, the city would most likely be in economic ruin.
     Citrus is one crop that is grown in the county. And the total economic impact of the iconic California citrus industry is $7.117 billion according to a new study commissioned by the Citrus Research Board (CRB).
     “In updating our economic analysis, we selected a well-known expert, Bruce Babcock, Ph.D., a professor in the School of Public Policy at the University of California, Riverside, to conduct the research. His findings quantified the significant impact of citrus on California’s economic well-being,” CRB President Gary Schulz said.
     According to Babcock, the California citrus industry added $1.695 billion to the state’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2016.
     “California citrus is a major contributor to the economic value of the state’s agricultural sector and is much larger than just the value of its sales,” he said. “Estimated full-time equivalent California citrus jobs totaled 21,674 in 2016-17, and estimated wages paid by the industry during that same time frame totaled $452 million.”
     Babcock added, “The application of management skills and capital equipment to efficiently utilize land and water to produce high-quality citrus also generates upstream and downstream jobs and income that magnify the importance of citrus production beyond its farm value.”
     In 2016-17, the most recent marketing year of data compilation, Babcock found that the total direct value of California citrus production was $3.389 billion. This value generated an additional $1.263 billion in economic activity from related businesses that supplied materials and services to the citrus industry. Layered on top was another $2.464 billion in economic activity generated by household spending income that they received from California’s industry, according to Babcock, thus rendering a total economic impact of $7.117 billion.
     The study revealed that 79 percent of California’s citrus was packed for the fresh market and 21 percent was processed in 2016-17, which is economically significant because fresh market fruit has a higher value than processed fruit.
     Of further note, California produced about 95 percent of all U.S. mandarins in the most recent reporting season.
     California Citrus Mutual President Joel Nelsen said, “The ‘wow’ factor in this report is something, as it relates to gross revenues and positive impact for the state, people and local communities. This enthusiasm must be tempered by the fact that huanglongbing (HLB) can destroy all this in a matter of a year if the partnerships that exist between the industry and government cannot thwart the spread of this insidious disease. Just this week, coincidentally, Brazil authorities reported a 20% reduction in fruit volume. Reading how that would affect our family farmers, employees and the state is sobering.”
     The CRB study also looked at the possible impact of a potential 20 percent reduction in California citrus acreage or yield or a combination of the two that could result from increased costs associated with meeting government regulations, combatting the Asian citrus psyllid (ACP) and warding off the invasion of HLB, a devastating disease that has decimated citrus production in many other growing regions such as Florida. Babcock calculated that such a reduction could cause a loss of 7,350 jobs and $127 million in associated employment income and could reduce California’s GDP by $501 million in direct, indirect and induced impacts. The CRB currently is devoting most of its resources to battling ACP and HLB to help ensure the sustainability of California citrus.
     Babcock is a Fellow of the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association and has won numerous awards for his applied policy research. The economist received his Ph.D. in Agricultural and Resource Economics from the University of California, Berkeley, and his Masters and Bachelors degrees from the University of California, 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. More information about the Citrus Research Board and the full report on the “Economic Impact of California’s Citrus Industry” may be found at www.citrusresearch.org. 

Huanglongbing Top Importance in Citrus

Huanglongbing Disease in Citrus is Top Problem

By Patrick Cavanaugh Farm News Director

Gary Schulz, President of the Citrus Research Board in Visalia, said the pest pressure in citrus comes down to three problems.

“You know, there’s three really. There’s Huanglongbing, Huanglongbing, and Huanglongbing, (HLB)” Schulz said at the recent California Citrus Conference in Visalia. “When I moved to California in 1990, I had an old-timer that was on my board. He said, ‘You know, in California, we have three major challenges: water, water, and water.’ Well, in the citrus research for pests and diseases, it’s really Huanglongbing.”

Gary Schulz

“If we’re talking about red scale or Phytophthora or lemon fruit drop, those are important challenges, but if HLB begins infecting our commercial groves and spreads as rapidly as it can without our attention and treatment or tree removal, the rest are moot,” Schulz said.

He discussed his hope for the future of the California citrus industry.

“I hope that in five years, we’ve solved HLB. That’s my personal goal. Somebody’s got to put the stake in the ground and put a date out there,” he noted.

Schulz said that Citrus Research Board has got a number of research programs that are all working side by side to find that solution, turn that key, and make that happen.

“It may be more than just one solution. We have a researcher at Washington State University in Pullman for example. They’ve earned a research grant from the USDA because of the creativity in putting their work team together and the fact that they bring a whole new fresh approach and fresh thought process to how to culture the bacteria that causes HLB disease. That’s huge in the science community and has never been done before,” Schulz said.

For more information go to http://citrusresearch.org/

ACP Spread in Bakersfield Area, Ingenious Research Proceeds

Ingenious Research Effort to Fight ACP Spread with Natural Predators

 

By Joanne Lui, Associate Editor

 

beth_grafton-cardwell
Beth Grafton-Cardwell, Cooperative Extension specialist, University of California, Riverside Department of Entomology

As we have reported in-depth before on California Ag Today, the Asian Citrus Psyllid (ACP) is a tiny, mottled brown insect that poses an ever-increasing threat to the state’s robust citrus industry, as well as to residential citrus trees. The pest can spread a bacterium known as Huanglongbing (HLP) that is fatal to citrus trees. The disease has nearly shut down Florida’s citrus industry.

Beth Grafton-Cardwell, cooperative extension specialist in integrated pest management, UC Riverside Department of Entomology, explained the significance of the recent ACP spread to Bakersfield. “That is really problematic because it’s mostly in the urban areas. It’s very difficult to find, to control and to stop that spread. It’s going to move out from that region into the local citrus orchards, and so there are lots of meetings and discussions right now to mobilize growers to get treatments to help protect their citrus orchards against the psyllid.”

#CitrusMatters
#CitrusMatters

To contain the ACP problem, Grafton-Cardwell stated, “There are traps everywhere, but the traps are not terribly efficient. So, we really need to carefully examine groves and flush [new leaf growth] for the nymph form,” she said.

According to Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California’s Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program:

Adults typically live one to two months. Females lay tiny yellow-orange almond-shaped eggs in the folds of the newly developing “feather flush” leaves of citrus. Each female can lay several hundred eggs during her lifespan.

ACP UC IPM
ACP (Source: ACP UC IPM)

The eggs hatch into nymphs that are wingless, flattened, yellow or orange to brownish, and 1/100 to 1/14 inch long. Nymphs molt four times, increasing in size with each nymphal stage (instar), before maturing into adult psyllids. The nymphs can feed only on soft, young leaf tissue and are found on immature leaves and stems of flush growth on citrus.

Save Our CitrusThe nymphs remove sap from plant tissue when they feed and excrete a large quantity of sugary liquid (honeydew). Each nymph also produces a waxy tubule from its rear end to help clear the sugary waste product away from its body. The tubule’s shape—a curly tube with a bulb at the end—is unique to the Asian citrus psyllid and can be used to identify the insect.

Grafton-Cardwell and other experts are concerned because once the ACP becomes established in urban areas, it is difficult to eradicate. “It starts spreading into the commercial citrus, and we’re off and running,” she commented.

bayer-save-our-citrusIn a ingenious effort to control the spread of the psyllid, trained teams of entomologists have imported Tamarixia radiata, a tiny wasp that naturally preys on ACP, from Pakistan to research and release in California. A cooperative effort of the University of California Riverside, Citrus Research Board, United States Department of Agriculture and California Department of Food and Agriculture, researchers are also exploring the effectiveness of another beneficial insect called Diaphorencyrtus aligarhensis to assist Tamarixia with control of the Asian citrus psyllid. To see where Tamarixia and Diaphorencyrtus have been released, visit this University of California’s website map at, “Distribution of ACP, HLB and Parasites in California,” and turn on the parasite layers.
Grafton-Cardwell said, “They’re going to inundate that area,” with natural ACP predators, “so hopefully that will push back a little bit.”

Psyllid Management Area Meetings in Tulare County

Developed by the top minds at University of California, California Citrus Mutual and Citrus Research Board, along with other industry leaders, a new area-wide treatment strategy is being introduced to citrus growers to organize the industry and allow for rapid communication if area-wide insecticide treatments are needed.

Coordinated treatments are the most effective way to manage the Asian citrus psyllid and thereby protect our state’s citrus from the incurable Huanglongbing disease, and this new strategy lays the framework for how neighboring growers should synchronize treatments to have the maximum impact on this pest. Right now, Tulare County is still in eradication mode, but the industry should plan for what may come next.

Industry leaders have divided Tulare County into “Psyllid Management Areas” in which neighbors can easily work together to time their treatments when the Asian citrus psyllid infests the area. Several meetings have been set up to introduce this strategy to growers, farm managers or PCA representatives from each area. Use the maps, dates, times and locations below to know which area you operate in and which meeting you should attend.

At each meeting growers will learn the details of this treatment strategy, when it should be implemented and how neighboring growers can work together. Growers will have an opportunity to get to know their neighbors and choose amongst themselves a Team Leader to help organize the group and flow communication about treatment timing. Growers working together will make this program successful and will save California citrus from the incurable HLB disease.

Click the link below to view a map to see the division of Psyllid Management Areas in Tulare County and learn which area you are in. The map is interactive – you can click the PMA labels on the map for a more detailed view of that area.

Tulare County PMA Map – http://www.citrusinsider.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/All-Tulare-County-PMAs-Grower-Access.pdf

To RSVP for a meeting, register using the links below or call 559-592-3790.

Many growers may have operations in multiple Psyllid Management Areas. In that case, growers are welcome to attend the meeting time and location that is most convenient for them or attend multiple meetings to get to know your neighbors in all areas.

July 22, 2014 – PMAs in Southern Tulare County
Porterville Veterans Memorial Building

8 a.m. – T-2, T-3, T-4, T-5, T-6, T-7
Register: http://citrusinsider.org/event-registration/?ee=4

9:30 a.m. – T-8, T-9, T-10, T-11, T-12, T-13
Register: http://citrusinsider.org/event-registration/?ee=6

11 a.m. – T-15, T-16, T-17, T-18, T-19, T-21
Register: http://citrusinsider.org/event-registration/?ee=5

1 p.m. – T-14, T-20, T-23, T-24, T-25, T-26
Register: http://citrusinsider.org/event-registration/?ee=7

2:30 p.m. – T-28, T-29, T-30, T-34, T-35, T-36
Register: http://citrusinsider.org/event-registration/?ee=8

4 p.m. – T-31, T-37, T-42, T-43
Register: http://citrusinsider.org/event-registration/?ee=9

July 24, 2014 – PMAs in Central Tulare County
Exeter Veterans Memorial Building

8 a.m. – T-22, T-27, T-32, T-33, T-38, T-39
Register: http://citrusinsider.org/event-registration/?ee=10

9:30 a.m. – T-40, T-41, T-44, T-45, T-46, T-48
Register: http://citrusinsider.org/event-registration/?ee=11

11 a.m. – T-47, T-50, T-51, T-52, T-53, T-54
Register: http://citrusinsider.org/event-registration/?ee=12

1 p.m. – T-49, T-55, T-56, T-57, T-59, T-70
Register: http://citrusinsider.org/event-registration/?ee=13

2:30 p.m. – T-58, T-60, T-61, T-62, T-63, T-76
Register: http://citrusinsider.org/event-registration/?ee=14

4 p.m. – T-64, T-65, T-66, T-67
Register: http://citrusinsider.org/event-registration/?ee=15

August 7, 2014 – PMAs in Northern Tulare County
Kearney Agricultural Center

8 a.m. – T-69, T-71, T-72, T-73, T-77, T-82
Register: http://citrusinsider.org/event-registration/?ee=16

9:30 a.m. – T-74, T-75, T-78, T-79, T-80, T-81
Register: http://citrusinsider.org/event-registration/?ee=17

11 a.m. – T-68, T-83, T-84, T-85, T-89, T-93
Register: http://citrusinsider.org/event-registration/?ee=18

1 p.m. – T-86, T-87, T-88, T-90, T-91, T-92
Register: http://citrusinsider.org/event-registration/?ee=19

2:30 p.m. – T-94, T-95, T-96, T-97, T-98, T-99
Register: http://citrusinsider.org/event-registration/?ee=20

4 p.m. – T-100, T-101, T-102, T-103
Register: http://citrusinsider.org/event-registration/?ee=21