New Computer App To Help Fight HLB Disease

Computer App Available To Aid In HLB Fight in Southern California

 By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

A computer app is now available to anyone curious about how close a HLB infected tree was found near his or her home.

The fight to reduce the incidence of Southern California trees infected with the fatal Huanglongbing disease takes many different strategies, in Southern California, particularly in Orange and LA Counties, where the disease continues to spread in trees in the yards of residents.

UC Scientist and others in the citrus industry are suggesting that homeowners remove citrus trees in their yards and replace them with non-citrus trees.

Beth Grafton-Cardwell

“One of the things we’re suggesting that homeowners do is if they’re near where a tree has been removed because it’s been declared positive, that, the homeowner consider removing their citrus trees proactively implanting non citrus,” said Beth Grafton-Cardwell a UCANR Entomologist based at the Lindcove Research and Extension Center.

And if homeowners want to know how close a positive has been found to their home, they can now find out. The information can be found by going to ucanr.edu/hlbapp. By zooming in, the site gives recommendations as to whether a homeowner should replace a tree or not.

It’s not a downloadable app for a smart phone but the web address can be access on the phone and be bookmarked.

“The point of this is because we can’t tell in an early infection which trees are infected,” said Grafton-Cardwell. “If a homeowner is near a known infected tree, there is a good chance that your trees are already infected and we just can’t tell yet.”

“So you help your neighbors and the industry by just taking those trees out and then you don’t have to have CDFA knocking on your door to spray pesticides or to ask to test your tree, if you just get the tree out,” she said.

Already more then 1,600 citrus trees in Southern California have been tested positive for HLB disease, and those trees have been removed.

Citrus Growers’ Response To Huanglongbing

Industry Committee Endorses Voluntary Best Practices

News Release

To provide California citrus growers with a strong toolbox of science-supported strategies and tactics to protect their orchards from Huanglongbing (HLB), the Citrus Pest & Disease Prevention Committee endorsed a set of best practices for growers to voluntarily employ in response to HLB in California.

Adult Asian citrus psyllid, Huanglongbing
Adult Asian citrus psyllid (Photo by J. Lewis). Courtesy of Citrus Research Board

The recommendations—which were developed based on a grower’s proximity to an HLB detection—represent the most effective tools known to the citrus industry at this time and are meant to supplement the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s required regulatory response. The best practices were developed by a task force consisting of growers from various regions across the state and scientists, all of whom were nominated by the Citrus Pest & Disease Prevention Committee.

Voluntary best practices were developed for growers in the four following scenarios:

  • Scenario 1: Orchards outside of an HLB quarantine area
  • Scenario 2: Orchards located between one and five miles of an HLB detection (within an HLB quarantine area)
  • Scenario 3: Orchards within one mile of an HLB detection but not known to be infected
  • Scenario 4: Orchards with HLB

The best practices vary in each scenario but all address: awareness, scouting for the Asian citrus psyllid, controlling Asian citrus psyllids with treatments, protecting young trees and replants, employing barriers or repellents, visually surveying for HLB, testing psyllid and plant material for HLB using a direct testing method like polymerase chain reaction (PCR), and tending to trees’ root health. The voluntary best practices in all four scenarios can be found at CitrusInsider.org.

While HLB has not yet been detected in a commercial grove in California, the disease continues to spread throughout residential communities of Los Angeles, Orange, and Riverside counties. HLB has infected more than 1,400 citrus trees, and 1,003 square miles are currently in an HLB quarantine area.

“Our state’s citrus industry has held the line against HLB since the first detection seven years ago. We should commend our efforts but must not forget the devastating impact HLB could have on our orchards and our livelihood,” said Jim Gorden, chair of the Citrus Pest & Disease Prevention Program and a citrus grower in Tulare County.

“We know the cost to manage the Asian citrus psyllid is far less than any potential costs or loss to the industry should HLB take hold throughout our state. These voluntary best practices are meant to serve as a box of tools so growers can use as many as are feasible for their operation in order to limit the spread of the psyllid and disease,” said Keith Watkins, chair of the task force that developed the best practices and vice president of farming at Bee Sweet Citrus.

CA Citrus Growers Work Hard to Prevent HLB Devastation

Learning From the Florida Industry as to How Bad it Can Be

By Mikenzi Meyers, Associate Editor

The severe effects of the Huanglongbing (HLB) disease on Florida citrus is cause for California growers to take important preventative measures to ensure the safety of their trees. Keith Watkins, vice president of outside operations for Bee Sweet Citrus, has seen the damage firsthand and has been hard at work to protect his trees.

“I’ve been to Florida, and I’ve seen how devastating the disease can be,” he said. “We have to spend money now to basically prevent that from happening to us.”

There are currently around 1100 trees that have tested positive for HLB in the Orange County and Anaheim-Garden Grove areas, but they are mainly backyard citrus trees. Luckily, Watkins said that the disease has not yet been traced in commercial operations.

Keeping HLB out of commercial growth is the biggest challenge growers face. There is not yet a cure for the disease, but according to Watkins, growers can help prevent it from reaching their crops by staying on top of killing psyllids when spotted. “We have to stay diligent. Our future really is maintaining a psyllid free population,” he said.

Reducing ACP Spread In California

Beth Grafton-Cardwell: Spread of Disease Must Be Prevented

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

Collaborative changes are being made to combat the Asian Citrus Psyllid (ACP). Beth Grafton-Cardwell is the director of Lindcove Research and Extension Center near Exeter, as well as a research entomologist with UC Riverside. She recently spoke at the 2019 Citrus Showcase in Visalia as a key speaker on the state of Huanglongbing (HLB) in California, with an overview of how to prevent ACP,—which vectors HLB, a fatal disease to citrus—from moving around the state.

We were trying to communicate why we’ve made the changes we’ve made for the industry that has been a collaborative effort between CDFA, growers, and the university, Grafton-Cardwell said. “We need better ways to prevent psyllids from moving around the state because they might have HLB in their bodies, and we’ve got to prevent the spread of the disease.

beth_grafton-cardwell
Beth Grafton-Cardwell

The Florida citrus industry did not do a great job in containing the Psyllid, and now HLB is rampant in the state’s citrus industry, which has devastated the citrus economy there.

“Florida found that they did not do much to control psyllid movement, and they found that psyllids were moving in bulk citrus bins and retail nursery plants around the state, and within a concise amount of time, they spread the Psyllid and the disease everywhere,” Grafton-Cardwell said. “We’re trying to avoid that. We have 100% tarping of citrus truckloads. We have treatments that have to be done if growers want to move citrus between major zones in California, so that we can prevent that kind of movement.”

Conversations continue about quarantine areas in California to reduce spread.

“There’s been a lot of discussion regarding quarantines because it’s painful for some growers who have low Psyllid numbers to have to treat and to move their fruit to other zones.”

“There’s been a lot of questions. We did a lot of scientific analysis to look at impacts as well as numbers. It’s not just about psyllid numbers; it’s about their impact if growers were to move the disease into a high citrus growing region,” Grafton-Cardwell explained.

Fighting for Citrus Industry

Continuing to Fight For Citrus Industry’s Longevity Requires Teamwork

By Jim Gorden, Committee Chair, Citrus Pest and Disease Prevention

For more than two centuries, citrus has grown strong in California’s yards and groves—serving as a source of nourishment, income, and tradition for many different individuals—but the citrus industry is at risk due to Huanglongbing’s (HLB) growing presence in California.

Jim Gorden

In 2018, HLB was found in more than 600 residential citrus trees in Southern California, and despite the program’s thorough surveying efforts, HLB has not been found in a commercial grove, but we must continue to hold strong. It has never been more important for all of us— including the Citrus Pest & Disease Prevention Program (CPDPP), regulatory authorities, the citrus industry, the scientific community, and others—to work together to prevent the spread of the disease and save California’s citrus industry.

While much has changed since the citrus industry came together ten years ago to support the creation of the CPDPP, one constant remains: the program’s dedication to fighting HLB. This year, the Citrus Pest & Disease Prevention Committee (CPDPC) created a strategic plan for combatting HLB now and in the future. The plan identified five prioritized strategies to achieve CPDPP’s goals of keeping HLB out of commercial groves, limiting Asian citrus psyllid (ACP) movement in the state and fine-tuning the program. In addition, the program agreed to align its annual budget in support of the strategies, which can be viewed in this report.

With this plan comes additional responsibilities for all individuals involved. The CPDPC understands HLB isn’t the only issue posing a threat to your business and our industry – but it’s one we can’t ignore. This report highlights the many activities the program and our partners are doing across the state to protect commercial groves from HLB, but we are only as strong as our weakest link.

Looking forward, much is at stake for California citrus growers, packers and workers as the industry faces its biggest threat yet in HLB. I encourage you to connect with the program, your local pest control district, or task force, and follow best practices for managing the ACP and HLB. If we sit idle, hoping others will take action for our benefit, we are welcoming this devastating disease into our groves.

But, by working together, we can protect California’s commercial citrus industry from devastation—sustaining our livelihood and the legacy of California citrus.

For more information on the  Citrus Pest & Disease Prevention Program Click here.

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

CAPCA Gets to the Capitol To Work for PCAs

PCAs Are in Every Legislative District

By Jessica Theisman, Associate Editor

CAPCA has recently become more active in the capitol. Ruthann Anderson, CEO and president of  California Association of Pest Control Advisors (CAPCA), said the association has PCAs in every legislative district all over the state of California.

“Whether it’s in turf and ornamental or in production agriculture, you know, we have a voice, and we have a lot of ability to influence some of the decisions or at least advise on some of the decisions that might be happening.,” she said.

Anderson said that CAPCA’s capitol visits have been positive.

“We’re on a first name basis with a lot more people than we have been,” she explained.

CAPCA is working with both urban and agricultural legislators.

“I am trying to prioritize both. I think that it wouldn’t be fair for us to neglect our local legislators just because we know that the urbans are a little bit more of our moderate Dems that we’re trying to pursue relationships with,” she said.

CAPCA would like to balance both and continue educating them on the field.

“Our Northern California Chapter is meeting with Senator Nielsen’s office from time to time, just letting them know exactly what’s happening in the field and making sure that they are in the loop,” Anderson said.

This way, if any questions arise, there is open communication between the office and the local CAPCA chapter.

“I know that they are asking a lot of questions about specific crop protection materials, and I think that is important for us to be able to tell the story,” Anderson said.

Sometimes, there is not an alternative, and CAPCA is there to explain.

“When controlling the Asian Citrus Psyllid that can spread the Huanglongbing disease in citrus, sometimes there is not an alternative; sometimes we’re quarantined and forced to do scheduled spraying. That is just a part of protecting the industry,” Anderson explained.

Citrus Mutual Encouraged by Farm Bill

California Citrus Mutual Commends Congress for Action on 2018 Farm Bill

News Release

This week, the U.S. Senate and the House passed the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, commonly known as the 2018 Farm Bill, with overwhelming bipartisan support. This legislation will direct agricultural policy and authorize funding for key agricultural programs in the federal government for the next 5 years.

President Trump has the opportunity to enact the 2018 Farm Bill before the end of the year.

CCM President Joel Nelsen offers the following statement:

“California Citrus Mutual applauds the Farm Bill conferees and House and Senate Ag Committees for moving forward a bill that includes priority programs for specialty crop producers. Jeff Denham, Jim Costa, and Jimmy Panetta were crucial voices for California farmers on the House Ag Committee. Along with Representatives Julia Brownley, Ken Calvert, and David Valadao, the California Members were instrumental to securing funding for research, trade and market enhancement, and pest and disease prevention that will directly benefit California specialty crop producers.

“With support from Congressmen Kevin McCarthy and Devin Nunes and Senators Feinstein and Harris, key programs and funding for the U.S. citrus industry will continue in the next Farm Bill.

“The U.S. citrus industry will receive funding to continue priority research to identify a solution to Huanglongbing, a devastating plant disease that is threatening the sustainability of our domestic citrus industry. This is a significant win for U.S. citrus growers.

“On behalf of the California citrus industry, I thank the Congressmen and Congresswoman, our U.S. Senators, and our colleagues in the specialty crop industry who worked diligently over the past several months to create a bipartisan Farm Bill that provides crucial resources to ensure our farmers can continue providing nutritious produce to Americans and people around the world.”

The 2018 Farm Bill includes $25 million per year for 5 years starting in 2019 for research specific to the invasive insect Asian citrus psyllid and deadly plant disease Huanglongbing (HLB). This Emergency Citrus Disease Research and Development Trust Fund will build upon the program created in the Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI) title in the 2014 Farm Bill and complements the $40 million per year program funded by California citrus growers to stop the spread of HLB.

The legislation also includes funding for the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s (APHIS) Plant Pest and Disease Management and Disaster Prevention Program and the National Clean Plant Network (NCPN). Additionally, funding will continue for the Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops (TASC) program, which helps growers overcome artificial trade barriers. TASC has been in operation for over fifteen years and was created to address sanitary and phytosanitary issues and technical barriers to trade that prohibit or threaten exports of U.S. specialty crops.

Farm Bill Deal a Big Win for U.S. Citrus Growers

Agreement Provides $25 Million for ACP and HLB

News Release

Recently, leading farm bill negotiators in the House and Senate announced that they have reached an “agreement in principle” signaling that a final deal will be made before the end of the year.

Included in the initial agreement is language providing $25 million per year for 5 years for research specific to the invasive insect Asian citrus psyllid and deadly plant disease Huanglongbing (HLB).

The Emergency Citrus Disease Research and Development Trust Fund will build upon the program created in the Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI) title in the 2014 Farm Bill, which dedicated research funding for citrus.

“The trust fund language is a significant win for U.S. citrus growers,” California Citrus Mutual President Joel Nelsen said. “It’s critical for the future of our industry and the domestic citrus market that we continue to invest in research aimed to find a solution for HLB.”

The Farm Bill funding specific to HLB research complements the $40 million per year program funded by California citrus growers to stop the spread of HLB, which has been detected in over 900 backyard citrus trees in Southern California. In recent years, the state of California has dedicated funds to augment ACP and HLB control efforts in urban areas, including the rearing and release of millions of beneficial insects in backyard citrus trees.

Negotiators have also agreed to maintain funding for the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s (APHIS) Plant Pest and Disease Management and Disaster Prevention Program and the National Clean Plant Network (NCPN). Additionally, funding will continue for the Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops (TASC) program, which helps growers overcome artificial trade barriers.

“On behalf of the California citrus industry, I want to thank the lead farm bill negotiators in both houses for their commitment to passing a Farm Bill that includes this vital funding for the U.S. citrus industry and specialty crops,” Nelsen said.

Preventing the Spread of ACP

Valley Citrus Growers Continue Vigilance

By Jessica Theisman, Associate Editor
ACP
USDA ACP Cooperative Program Map (Source:
California Citrus Pest & Disease Prevention Program)

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.”

“If one were to look at a map of ACP infestation in California [such as CDFA Quarantine Maps and California Citrus Pest & Disease Prevention Program Threat map], they may consider it to be endemic in the Los Angeles area. Rest assured that anytime ACP is found in a trap, the CDFA sprays everything in that area within 400 meters.”

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.

SaveOurCitrusIn 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.”