Protecting California Citrus from ACP

Protecting California Citrus from ACP

By Charmayne Hefley, Associate Editor

 

California’s $2.2 billion fresh citrus industry that supplies 85 percent of the nation’s fresh citrus is currently healthy and vibrant despite the background threat of the Asian Citrus Psyllid (ACP), according to Kevin Severns, a citrus grower in Sanger, CA; general manager of the Orange Cove-Sanger Citrus Association, a cooperative citrus packing house in eastern Fresno County; and  chairman of California Citrus Mutual.

“We’re quite concerned about it,” Severns said about the ACPa tiny bug that is a known carrier or vector of “huanglongbing” (HLB), a devastating, incurable disease of citrus trees  that has already demolished the citrus industry in Florida. “We’ve been able to keep the bug at bay to this point,” Severins continued, “at least here in the Central Valley, but we’re very concerned about it. There are a lot of issues to be concerned about with this bug.”

Save Our CitrusCalifornia has taken note of the devastation of Florida’s industry, Severns said, and is taking steps to ensure the safety of California’s citrus. “Having gone to Florida with many of our citrus growers,” Severns explained, “I heard Florida growers tell we must control the bug. So we’re trying to keep this bug at bay and not allow [the infestation] to expand. We’ve had varied success in different areas of California, but so far, we’ve been able to keep the bug’s expansion here in the Central Valley to a minimum. We continue to have finds from time to time, but we haven’t yet had an explosion of the population of the ACP.”

Severns said, “We have a very successful partnership with the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA).” While trapping ACP is critical, he emphasized the importance of enlisting the help of residential folks with citrus in their backyards to get involved in the conversation, to look for this pest, and to join in the fight. “The trap is very limited in its ability to pick up ACP, so it’s very important that we have visual surveys in which growers and homeowners actually go out and look at their trees for the bug.”

Severns said current measures against the spread of the ACP is helping to buy time for researchers to find a cure for HLB. “We realize every place on earth where the ACP has gone, eventually has been followed by HLB,” Severns said, “so we’re trying very hard to buy time and give our researchers and scientists a chance to come up with a solution to this disease—whether it is a resistant type of citrus variety or a cure for the trees.”

Preventing the spread of ACP and HLB, from commercial citrus growers to residential citrus growers, will require that everyone works together. To learn more, go to CaliforniaCitrusThreat.org or contact your local Ag Commissioner.

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Did you know, the historical time period establishing the California citrus industry is known as the “other” California Gold Rush? (Source: California Citrus Mutual)

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California Citrus Mutual to Contribute $150k to Water Bond Campaign; $50k to Latino Outreach

California Citrus Mutual (CCM) will directly contribute $150,000 to the campaign to pass Proposition 1, the water bond measure.

The CCM Board of Directors voted unanimously to support the measure in order to secure a reliable and sustainable water supply for California agriculture and communities across the state.

“We are in a state of unprecedented crisis in terms of water supply,” says CCM President Joel Nelsen.  “CCM worked closely with members of the legislature to create a long term solution path for the State’s water infrastructure and sustainability needs.  It is essential to the future of agriculture in California that voters approve Proposition 1 this November.”

Proposition 1 includes $2.7 billion to build additional water storage that will alleviate pressure upon Millerton Reservoir and water users on the Friant-Kern Canal in critical drought years such as this.  Approximately 58% of U.S. fresh citrus is grown by farmers in the Friant service area who received zero surface water allocation from the Central Valley Project for the first time in the project’s history this year.

“CCM’s contribution of $150,000 is an investment in our future, and the future of California,” says CCM Board Chairman Kevin Severns.  “It is critical that voters understand the importance of the issue and vote to pass Proposition 1.”

Additionally, CCM has committed $50,000 to the “El Agua es Asunto de Todos” (Water is Everybody’s Business) outreach campaign to raise awareness among the Latino community about the importance of a reliable water supply for California’s economy and jobs.

“CCM is proud to support the ‘El Augua’ campaign in its effort to empower the Latino community to support policy that creates water for California,” concludes Nelsen.

Harlan Ranch Pushes Citrus Trees Due to No Water

 

Califonia Citrus Mutual Holds Press Conference at Harlan Ranch to Show Catastrophe

Kevin Severns, a citrus grower and manager of Orange Cove – Sanger Citrus Association and chairman of California Citrus Mutual, spoke to the crowd gathered at third-generation, family-owned Harlan Ranch, Clovis, CA, TODAY, “This is what a zero allocation looks like, folks, this is what zero allocation looks like.”

“Harlan Ranch and Orange Cove-Sanger Citrus have a long history together. Next year we will receive our lowest-ever deliveries from Harlan Ranch simply because of the number of trees are being pushed. Why are they being pushed? No water.

“This is an inexcusable situation and something we are desperate to do something about. Thankfully, this doesn’t have to be the end of the story. We can do something about this, and that’s what this is all about–to bring attention to both the plight and what can be done about it,” said Severns.

“The packing house that I manage is about 25 miles, as the crow flies, from where I’m standing, and the fruit from this ranch is delivered there along with fruit from the other growers who also own the packing house. It’s a cooperative of family farmers. We employ about 100 people directly in our packing house, and another 200 to 250 in the crews that pick, harvest and prune,” Severns said.

TODAY’S MEETING IN FRESNO ADDRESSES ACP

Fresno County on Alert for ACP

 
Assemblyman Jim Patterson

Assemblyman Jim Patterson hosted the Citrus Industry Town Hall this morning at the Fresno County Farm Bureau office to discuss the current state of the Asian Citrus Psyllid presence in California, the quarantine situation, how Fresno County is preparing for the possible migration of ACP into the county, and how agencies, growers, and the state and federal governments are cooperating to control its spread in California.

Over forty people attended the meeting, including growers, PCAs, local government and industry leaders, researchers, and media.

Fresno County is the fourth largest citrus-producing county in California, having dropped in status due to freeze-damaged mandarin acreage last year, according to Les Wright, Fresno County Ag Commissioner.
Les Wright
“ACP spread is one of the most serious problems facing valley citrus growers especially those in the south valley,” said Wright.
 
To date, all contiguous counties in southern California are under CDFA Quarantine, as well the Porterville area of Tulare County, to prevent movement of ACP-ridden leaves and plant debris and unsanitary ag equipment into non-infested regions of the state and to bide time for agency mobilization and industry research to catch up. The effort also aims to prevent ACP from finding HLB-infected trees and spreading the incurable disease.
 
Though presently under quarantine, the effort in southern California to stop the spread of ACP, it was emphasized, was NOT a failure; rather, it bought precious time for other regions to prepare, and while many treatments did not work, other regions are learning from their attempts.
 
Creative Solutions
 
Dr. Beth Grafton-Cardwell

Dr. Beth Grafton-Cardwell, UC IPM Specialist and Research Entomologist, recently studied ACP found in Texas and Florida and reported that local agencies here are following Florida’s lead in organizing grower groups and local neighbors to treat their trees simultaneously.

She said that researchers are looking for natural processes, among others, to control ACP populations.
 
Victoria Hornbaker, CDFA, Program Coordinator, gave the example of Dr. Mark Hoddle, Extension Specialist and Director of the Center for Invasive Species Research at UC Riverside, who is working towards the massive release of Tamarixia radiata wasps, a natural predator of ACP, found in Pakistan. In studies of small releases of T. radiata, the wasps were found outside the areas where they were released—a good indication of their hardiness and potential effectiveness against ACP.

Victoria Hornbaker

While there is no cure for HLB thus far, researchers are looking at altering the ACP so it cannot pick up HLB disease, inserting a gene so it cannot carry HLB, and creating disease-resistant plants.

Organic insecticides against ACP are short-lived, so they must be applied more frequently than their conventional counterparts. Thus, organic farmers must be more aggressive in their treatments.
 
UC Davis is studying new efficacious organic products.
 
If an organic farm were in an eradication zone, the grower would be required to use conventional products, losing organic status for one year. Without compliance, the property would be abated.
 
It is recommended that when a grower sprays for a different pest, they should choose a product that also works on ACP.
 
Eradication and management strategies differ according to season.
 
Product spraying frequency and product choice are delicate decisions so as not to cause resistance in ACP.
 
Expert dog sniffers can detect the presence of ACP, and have detected infested shipments that were subsequently destroyed. California is vigilant at all points of entry including airports, border traffic, and ports. Not all counties have expert canines; however, Fresno has one such specialist. The USDA also provides dogs, one of which works in Fresno.
 
Take Action Now
 
Start sampling now.
 
Do not rely on (color-saturated) yellow-sticky traps for detection. Remember that psyllids are attracted to citrus trees, which have both color and scent.
ACP likes an orchard’s edges, so test for their presence around a field’s perimeter, as well as down the center for good measure.
 
Go to the following websites for information, quarantine maps, crop protection cost-effectiveness:
·       CDFAWebsite
In the event a homeowner or grower suspects ACP on their property, take the bug, if possible, put it in alcohol, and contact the Fresno County Farm Bureau; Sylvie Robillard, Fresno County Grower Liaison; the CDFA Hotline, 1-800-481-1899 or your local Ag commissioner (if outside Fresno County).
 
Joel Nelson
Joel Nelson, California Citrus Mutual, President, commented, “If it weren’t serious, it would be exciting” due to the talent of the people involved in the fight to suppress the ACP and thereby avoid HLB disaster in the state. With southern California producing $750,000 and the Central Valley producing $1.5 billion in citrus, California is the largest citrus-producing state in the country, providing 85% of the country’s fresh citrus.
 
Stopping the spread of ACP and eradicating Huanglongbing (HLB) is among the top five priorities of the USDA. The federal government has contributed $10 million to the California program toward that end.
 
A coalition of groups is conducting a public relations campaign starting in southern California that includes distribution of bookmarks and brochures (in several languages) that have a little magnifying glass inside to detect ACP; enlisting legislators and box stores, among others, to help spread information; and launching a PSA next week featuring Citrus Grower Kevin Severns speaking about this crucial situation.There are 6 versions of the PSA on CCM’s YouTube Channel.
 
Nelson emphasized that every step this coalition in California takes is globally unprecedented. And the government is flexible and ready to adopt new strategies; using this effort in California as a model for other programs planned to eradicate foreign invading pests.
 
Assemblyman Jim Patterson concluded by acknowledging, “Agriculture is more than a livelihood; it‘s a life.”