Breaking News: Cal Poly Opens New Greenhouse and Insect Rearing Facility

New Greenhouse Facility Opens to Save Citrus from Psyllids that Vector HLB

Facility to Rear Tamarixia Radiata, Natural ACP Predator

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

 

Scores of citrus industry leaders, citrus growers, scientists and CDFA officials attended the ribbon cutting event TODAY at the opening of a new greenhouse on the Cal Poly Pomona campus to rear Tamarixia radiata, a tiny parasitic wasp imported from Pakistan because it is an Asian Citrus Psyllid (ACP) nymph predator. ACP, in turn, is a serious nonnative citrus pest that can vector Huanglongbing (HLB)—a deadly citrus disease also known as Citrus Greening—that has devastated the powerhouse citrus Screenshot 2016-07-25 12.24.41.png

industry in Florida, threatens to ruin additional citrus economies, and is the biggest threat the California citrus industry has ever faced.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS), infected citrus trees “produce fruits that are green, misshapen and bitter, unsuitable for sale as fresh fruit or for juice. Most infected trees die within a few years.” ACPs have been detected in Alabama, American Samoa, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Guam, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Texas and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Of those locations, the HLB disease has been detected in California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Texas and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

ENTER:  Tamarixia radiata

Use of the ACP predator, Tamarixia radiata as a biological control for ACP was discovered by Mark Hoddle, biological control specialist and principal investigator, UC Riverside ( UCR), Department of Entomology. The first release of Tamarixia was in December 2011 after USDA-APHIS cleared the natural enemy for release from the Quarantine Facility at UCR.

Mark Hoddle UC Riverside Department of Entomology
Mark Hoddle UC Riverside Department of Entomology

“Tamarixia can kill ACP nymphs in two different ways,” explained Nick Hill, a Tulare County citrus producer and Citrus Pest & Disease Prevention Program (CPDPC) chair.  “The first is parasitism. In this instance, a female parasitoid lays an egg underneath a fourth or fifth instar—the larger and final developmental stage of the ACP nymph before becoming an adult—nymphs that are most preferred by Tamarixia for parasitism. When the egg hatches, the Tamarixia larva begins to feed on the under-surface of the ACP nymph. Eventually the larva completely excavates the body cavity of the ACP nymph and pupates inside the empty shell of its host.”

Hill explained the first releases of the tiny and harmless wasp will occur this fall in urban areas, “to help control ACP so that we do not have to do mitigations such as spraying in those areas. We hope to get to a point where we no longer need to go into people’s yards and ask if we can treat the trees.”

“The issue,” commented Valerie Melano, professor and chair, Cal Poly Pomona Plant Sciences and interim chair, Cal Poly Agribusiness & Food Industry Management/Agricultural Science, “is that we need to come up with the best possible ways to raise enough wasps for big releases to prey on ACP. We will have CDFA employees working in this green house, as well as student workers who have participated in our research program all along,” noted Melano.

Nick Hill, CPDPC chair
Nick Hill, a Tulare County citrus producer and Citrus Pest & Disease Prevention Program (CPDPC) chair.

Hill added, “The idea is to get enough Tamarixia out there so they start reproducing themselves and they become self sufficient. This is tough to accomplish, but researchers think if they can get big numbers of the wasp into the urban areas, they can put a big dent in lowering the populations of ACP.”

Cal Poly Pomona Greenhouse

The new Cal Poly 5,040-square-foot research greenhouse, built in collaboration with Citrus Research Board and constructed through a $400,000 grant from the Citrus Pest & Disease Prevention Program, will house the second Tamarixia production program in California. CDFA’s Mount Roubideaux facility in Riverside houses current production. Both facilities will support the CPDPC biological control program that oversees releases in urban areas with high ACP populations.

The new greenhouse should produce a 1-ACP Research Greenhouse1.5 million wasps. “It’s a very nice facility,” said Hill. “We are trying to boost the biological control program to produce four million Tamarixia a year.”

California Quarantine

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) operates an extensive monitoring program to track the distribution of the insect and disease in both residential areas and commercial citrus groves. Results have determined quarantine zones, guided releases of biological control agents, and prioritized areas for a residential chemical control program. Nearly all of southern California is under quarantine for ACP, due to the fact that more than 15 residential trees have been discovered to be in infected with HLB.

The ACP quarantine in California includes parts of the following counties:  Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Monterey, San Benito, San Joaquin, San Luis Obispo, San Mateo, Santa Clara, and Stanislaus; and the following entire counties: Imperial, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Tulare County, and Ventura.

Asian Citrus Psyllid Cooperative Program California, Arizona, Baja California, and Sonora (USDA-APHIS)
Asian Citrus Psyllid Cooperative Program
California, Arizona, Baja California, and Sonora (USDA-APHIS). Visit our Citrus Diseases page to identify a plant infected by citrus greening, citrus canker, citrus black spot and sweet orange scab. If you detect an infected plant, report it  immediately.

BREAKING NEWS ON HUANGLONGBING CITRUS DISEASE

HUANGLONGBING CITRUS DISEASE DETECTED IN SAN GABRIEL AREA OF LOS ANGELES COUNTY
CDFA
Release #15-031

Sacramento, July 10, 2015 – The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) have confirmed detection of huanglongbing (HLB) citrus disease, or citrus greening. The disease was detected in plant material taken from a kumquat tree in a residential neighborhood in the San Gabriel area of Los Angeles County.

This is the second time HLB has been detected in California. The first detection occurred in 2012 in a residential citrus tree in Hacienda Heights, about 15 miles from San Gabriel.

HLB is a bacterial disease that attacks the vascular system of plants. It does not pose a threat to humans or animals. The Asian citrus psyllid (ACP) can spread the bacteria as the pest feeds on citrus trees and other plants. Once a tree is infected, there is no cure; it typically declines and dies within a few years.Residential Citrus Trees

“Citrus is a cherished part of our landscape and our shared history, as well as a major agricultural crop,” said CDFA Secretary Karen Ross. “CDFA is moving quickly to protect the state’s citrus. We have been planning and preparing for HLB detections with our growers and our colleagues at the federal and local levels since before the ACP was first detected here in 2008.”

A CDFA crew has removed and disposed of the infected tree and is preparing to conduct treatment of citrus trees for ACP infestation within 800 meters of the find site. By taking these steps, a critical reservoir of disease and its vectors will be removed, which is essential.

An intensive survey  of local citrus trees and psyllids is underway to determine if HLB exists anywhere else in the area. Planning has begun for a quarantine of the area to limit the spread of the disease by restricting the movement of citrus trees, citrus plant parts, green waste, and all citrus fruit except what is commercially cleaned and packed. As part of the

SAVE OUR CITRUS app is a free USDA iPhone 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.
SAVE OUR CITRUS app is a free USDA iPhone 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.

quarantine, citrus and closely related plants at nurseries in the area will be placed on hold.

Residents of quarantine areas are urged not to remove or share citrus fruit, trees, clippings/grafts or related plant material. Citrus fruit may be harvested and consumed on-site.

CDFA, in partnership with the USDA, local agricultural commissioners and the citrus industry, continues to pursue a strategy of controlling the spread of ACPs while researchers work to find a cure for the disease.

HLB is known to be present in Mexico and in parts of the southern U.S. Florida first detected the pest in 1998, and the disease in 2005, and the two have now been detected in all 30 citrus-producing counties in that state. The University of Florida estimates that the disease causes an average loss of 7,513 jobs per year, and has cost growers $2.994 billion in lost revenue since HLB was first detected in that state in 2006.

HLB has also been detected in Georgia, Louisiana, South Carolina and Texas, as well as Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. A total of 15 states or territories are under full or partial quarantine due to the detected presence of the Asian citrus psyllid: Alabama, American Samoa, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Guam, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Texas, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The ACP was first detected in California in 2008, and quarantines are now in place in 17 California counties. If Californians have questions about the ACP or HLB, they may call CDFA’s toll-free pest hotline at 1-800-491-1899 or visit:  http://www.cdfa.ca.gov/phpps/acp/.

California Projects in New USDA Regional Conservation Partnership Program

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced 115 high-impact projects across all 50 states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico will receive more than $370 million in federal funding as part of the new USDA Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP).  In addition, these projects will leverage an estimated $400 million more in partner contributions—for a total of nearly $800 million—to improve the nation’s water quality, support wildlife habitat and enhance the environment.

“This is an entirely new approach to conservation efforts,” said Secretary Vilsack. “These partnerships empower communities to set priorities and lead the way on conservation efforts important for their region. They also encourage private sector investment so we can make an impact that’s well beyond what the Federal government could accomplish on its own.”

The RCPP competitively awards funds to conservation projects designed by local partners specifically for their region. Eligible partners include private companies, universities, non-profit organizations, local and tribal governments and others joining with agricultural and conservation organizations and producers to invest money, manpower and materials to their proposed initiatives.

Through the RCPP, partners propose conservation projects to improve soil health, water quality and water use efficiency, wildlife habitat, and other related natural resources on private lands.

Four of the selected projects are connected to California:

1) Expansion of Waterbird Habitat – The current sequence of events for rice production creates a situation where birds are frequently left with abrupt changes in habitat availability. The proposal extends the “watering” season of flooded rice fields beyond just the production phase and adds shallow water habitat in the winter/spring and fall months. This proposal supports the California Rice Commission in expanding the Waterbird Habitat Enhancement Program (WHEP) by 50 percent, thus enhancing the wildlife value of 165,000 acres of rice and the long term sustainability of rice agriculture.

2) Rice Stewardship Partnership – The Rice Stewardship Partnership, composed of Ducks Unlimited, the USA Rice Federation, and 44 collaborating partners, will assist up to 800 rice producers to address water quantity, water quality, and wildlife habitat across 380,000 acres in Mississippi, Arkansas, California, Louisiana, Missouri, and Texas.

3) Tricolored Blackbird Habitat – The Tricolored Blackbird once was abundant in California with a population in the millions. It now has an estimated 145,000 birds remaining statewide, and many predict that it is heading toward extinction. This proposal is a partnership between the dairy industry and conservation groups, with Audobon California as the lead partner, to address the factors that challenge California dairy farmers and threaten Tricolored Blackbirds, with the goal of finding a sustainable solution for management of colonies on farms and saving the Tricolored Blackbird from extinction.

4) Klamath-Rogue Woodland Health and Habitat Conservation – Many at-risk and listed species depend on quality oak woodlands that are threatened by conifer encroachment, densification, and severe wildfires in this project area, covering portions of Oregon and California. Working with landowners, including historically underserved producers, and using a sound, science-based approach, the partners will target 3,200 high-priority acres recently identified in a Conservation Implementation Strategy to preserve, enhance, and restore the structural diversity, ecological function, and overall health and persistence of oak habitats and their watersheds.

A complete list of the projects and their descriptions is available on the NRCS website.