Improved Huanglongbing Detection in Citrus Trees

Projects Underway for Better Huanglongbing Detection in Infected Trees

 

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

 

 

The big problem with Huanglongbing Disease (HLB), also known as citrus greening, is that an infected tree, despite having no visual symptoms, could quietly be a massive reservoir of HLB. The main vector, the Asian Citrus Psyllid (ACP), could easily pick up HLB from that tree and spread the disease throughout the orchard.

Currently, the main push to contain the possible spread of HLB is by controlling ACP. Yellow sticky traps are positioned near every commercial orchard in California, as well as near non-commercial trees in neighborhoods. Finding a psyllid on a trap triggers mandatory spray programs to help eliminate all psyllids in the area.

Neil McRoberts, Huanglongbing Detection
Neil McRoberts, associate professor of plant pathology, UC Davis

“Yes, one of the most critical questions in managing in HLB is the trees can be infected for a long time before you can visually see the ACP there,” said Neil McRoberts, an associate professor of plant pathology, University of California, Davis.

“There is a group of scientists, funded by the Citrus Research Board of California (CRB), working on different early detection methods. Those are methods where you would be able to tell the tree was infected before you could see the tree is infected,” said McRoberts.

The CRB funded field trials in Texas over the last few years that have narrowed the field of competitors to two or three techniques. The CRB will continue to fund the two leading contenders in that race to determine the leading early detection technology.

In the first technique, researchers analyzed all the microbes that live on a non-infected leaf surface and studied how that profile of microbes changes when the tree gets infected. Detecting a change in microbe profile could indicate the tree is not as healthy as it should be.

“Researchers take the microbes that live on an infected tree, extract the DNA from those microbes and run the DNA through a sequencer. The sequencer identifies which types of microbes are there,” he said.

McRoberts said sampling for microbes is easy. Researchers use an industrial-sized swab on the leaf surface. “You literally clean the leaf surface with the swab until it’s squeaky clean, put that swab in a bottle and send it to a lab. When it gets to the lab, they extract the DNA out of it and the rest of the process happens from there.

ACP Nymph Tamarixia Huanglongbing
A female Tamarixia radiata laying egg on an ACP nymph. (Photo by J. Lotz). Courtesy of Citrus Research Board

In selecting which trees should undergo microbe swabbing, McRoberts noted that the ACPs tend to attack the groves from the outer edges, inwards. “At different times of the day, the light will be on different edges of the grove depending on where the sun is and how warm it is. You can target your sampling towards the places where you’re more likely to find it, but still, finding those initial little infections is tough.”

The second method is a technique called metabolic profiling. A newly infected tree starts to produce different proteins and other chemicals in response.

Still another research strategy is analyzing things that stay in the tissue. “There’s a change in the profile of metabolites in the tree. If you run those metabolites through a mass spectrometer, the mass spectrometer will spit out a profile. You can tell the difference between a healthy profile and an infected profile,” McRoberts said.

“This is how the dogs come into the picture. Everybody knows that citrus has an odor. When the trees are infected, the profile of the chemicals and the composition of that odor change. We can’t smell it, but a very sensitive electronic detector device can sometimes pick it up. Remarkably, dogs can pick it up. We think that’s what happening with the canine detectors; they’re picking up some change in the smell of the trees.”

McRoberts said that dogs are amazingly accurate in detecting trees with HLB disease. “The best that we can tell from the trials involving dogs, the false positive rate is less than 1 in 1,000. I’m very confident with the detector dogs,” McRoberts said.

 

Featured photo: Adult Asian citrus psyllid (Photo by J. Lewis). Courtesy of Citrus Research Board

Citrus Research Board of California (CRB)

UC Davis Department of Plant Pathology

Better Year for Western Cotton Growers

Western Cotton Growers See Market Improvement

 

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

 

Cotton growers throughout California and the West fared better this year compared to last year in terms of prices and exports, as reported at the Calcot, Ltd. 89th Annual Meeting last week in Tempe, Arizona. Jarral Neeper president and CEO of the Bakersfield-based Calcot, Ltd., the cotton marketing cooperative representing growers in California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, announced, “Last year we produced about 13M bales. We should be a hair over 16M this year.”

California Cotton, Merced County, Sept 2016
California Cotton, Merced County

Neeper estimated, “We’re going to go from about 10.2 million bales in exports to 11.5 million based on a review of our historical shares of the marketplace and the world, the foreign production/consumption gap, our historical shares of filling that gap, and how much we should export.”

“One year ago at this time, cotton prices were at a very low $0.61 per pound,” said Neeper. “The market eventually fell. Prices rallied a little bit, and then fell down to $0.55. Then, the last month of the crop year, we had calcot-logothis unforeseen $0.10 rally—almost $0.12 rally.

In cotton marketing where there are highs and lows, Neeper acknowledged, you can’t always sell high; you have to sell when you can. “As a cooperative, in order to make progress payments to your membership, you do have to sell cotton and turn it into cash.”

“The cotton futures look good,” Neeper said, “even better for the coming year. We’re sitting at roughly $0.70 a pound, about ten cents higher than a year ago. And, generally, California cotton growers tend to get a $0.05 to $0.10 premium per pound because of our growing additions and high quality lint.”

Neeper believes the future of Calcot, Ltd. is “terrific.” He added, “89 years and still going strong; we’re looking for another 89 years.”

 

Calcot Could Market 70 Millionth Bale this Year

Calcot Ltd. Chairman Talks California Cotton at 89th Annual Meeting

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

Calcot Ltd., a democratically-run cotton marketing cooperative owned by 1,200 select cotton growers in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, held its 89th Annual Meeting in Tempe, Arizona, this week. 

Gregory Wuertz, chairman of Calcot and an Arizona cotton grower, said, “The cooperative started in 1927, and it is just amazing to me that we will reach 70 million bales sometime this year.”

“That’s a lot of cotton if you think about it,” Wuertz said. “And it has a great effect on all the growers. A lot of money has been run through the organization, and we are still doing it.”

Wuertz said Calcot directors are in the field across the western cotton belt, interacting with the industry.

“We have Calcot personnel in each cotton region who are also out in the fields talking to people and bringing up questions. They just don’t stay in their office. We try to get great members, and we work really closely with gin managers and their staff. We want to be on a first-name basis,” he said.

Wuertz noted, “You have to love the lifestyle of cotton production. You get attached to the crop. You plant it in March and harvest it in November. It’s a long-term thing.”

Yet, Wuertz acknowledged, “There are ups and downs. There always are. There is always a new catastrophe because you deal with the weather and the water issues. I think you just build up a little bit of a strength and have tougher skin than maybe some growers have with other commodities.”

Many Calcot growers outside of California are in awe of California producers. 

“California has a lot more regulations,” Wuertz said. “They’re blessed with a really nice climate—just a perfect area. Our climate is a little harsher, but California people work with air quality, labor laws, and their water issues. They have to have a real sharp pencil to make all that work.”

However, Wertz says, California growers always enjoy a better per-pound price for their cotton.

“I think over the years they have developed markets, and because of their climate, they do grow a real [high] quality crop that just demands a higher price. Everybody says there’s no difference, but there is some kind of difference that is just a little better,” he said.

Wuertz explained that the Calcot cooperative is good for growers when it comes to the prices they receive.

“It is the classic cooperative idea,” he said. “It is too risky to try and peak these cotton markets. It is risky to just hold all your cotton and try to peak it at one time.”

“You have to be conservative,” he continued. “Like cotton growers are — very conservative. So you sell some and hold some and seek financing from banks for the short term. We have good tight covenants with the bank, and that’s part of our risk-management policy. We don’t want to speculate, so that is why we sell throughout the year, and we try and watch all those things.”

“We have a very strong relationship with mills and we can sell directly to them, which I think demands more of a premium for Calcot growers,” Wuertz said. “And while most cotton-spinning mills are offshore, we still have a good chunk of cotton going to some very good domestic mills, where they turn out top of the line sheets and higher-count shirts.”

Keeping the California Dairy Industry Afloat

The Necessity of Keeping the California Dairy Industry Competitive

 

By Brian German, Associate Broadcaster

 

 

Anthony Raimondo, an attorney with 15 years of experience working with farmers and farm labor contractors, is concerned the California government is placing the state’s agricultural industry at an economic disadvantage compared to other states. Raimondo used the California dairy industry as a prime example in which arbitrary in-state legislation is giving other states an advantage.
dairy cows

 

“The state government tells the dairy farmer how much they get to charge for milk,” explained Raimondo. “They have now raised minimum wage and overtime, with AB-1066 becoming law, but they do not tie any of that [added cost] to the milk price. Farmers will lose money,” he said.

 

“The California dairy industry is still fighting to be a part of the USDA’s Federal Milk Marketing Order (FMMO),” Raimondo continued. “But until that happens, the added costs are causing many California dairymen to weigh their options.”

 

Increasing government regulation is making it difficult for California dairies to compete with other states, Wisconsin in particular. Raimondo elaborated, “For many years, Wisconsin’s milk production was on the decline and California’s milk production was on the rise; that trend has now reversed. Wisconsin is now on the rise again and California is on the decline because our dairies can’t make it with the level of regulation and the level of cost,” he said.

 

“Some dairies have reduced hours to keep costs low,” said Raimondo. “Other dairies are closing either because they are going out of business or because they are moving to places like Idaho and Texas where the milk price is better and the cost profile is more favorable.”

 

The move to a FMMO would help even the playing field for California dairies. Raimondo warned there is a lot at stake if nothing is done to lower milk production costs in the number one Ag state. “We are going to lose a segment of agriculture that is 100% family farms. Family farming is one of those things that is precious to our state, and it can’t be brought back once it’s gone,” Raimondo said.

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.

Union Advances Fair Market Access

National Farmers Union Advances Fair Market Access for Growers

By Brian German, Associate Editor

Chandler Goule
Chandler Goule, senior vice president of Programs for the National Farmers Union (NFU)

Chandler Goule, senior vice president of Programs for the National Farmers Union (NFU), introduced his organization,”The National Farmers Union is the second largest general farm organization in the United States. We represent about 200,000 family farmers and ranchers. We have membership in all 50 states, but we’re organized in 32.”

Goule described NFU membership, “We were founded in 1902 down in Point, Texas, so we represent everybody from row crops, to dairymen, to ranchers, to specialty crops, to those who are selling in Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs) . You name it, we’ve got somebody. Bee collectors and honey producers are also in our organization.”

Since its inception, the NFU has been an advocate for helping the family farmer address profitability issues and monopolistic practices by increasing cooperative rights along with advancing fair market access for growers. “We are a federation of states,” Goule said, “so we’re a grassroots organization. NFU could not exist without California Farmers Union and North Dakota Farmers Union and Minnesota Farmers Union. So when you bring all the state farmers union devisions together, that’s what makes up National Farmers Union. It’s a very bottom-up approach.CA Farmers Union

“Of course, with California being the bread basket for the United States and by far the largest in gross domestic product (GDP) in agriculture,” Gould stated, “California Farmers Union membership is very heavy in dairy, has a little bit of viticulture and then specialty crops.”

____________________________________

National Farmers Union is a grassroots, producer-driven organization that believes good opportunities in production agriculture are the foundation of strong farm and ranch families, and strong farm and ranch families are the basis for thriving rural communities. Vibrant rural communities, in turn, are vital to the health, security and economic well-being of our entire national economy.

California Leopold Conservation Award® Seeks Nominees

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – (April 28, 2015), the California Farm Bureau Federation and Sustainable Conservation are accepting applications for the $10,000 California Leopold Conservation Award. The award honors California farmers, ranchers and other private landowners who demonstrate outstanding stewardship and management of natural resources.

“The Leopold Conservation Award celebrates the people and places where innovative and creative thinking and experimentation are taking place,” said Judith Redmond of Full Belly Farm, recipient of the 2014 Leopold Conservation Award. “If you or a friend include conservation in your daily decision making – I hope you’ll submit a nomination. It’s okay to brag about good land stewardship.”

“Good intentions and luck take no farmer down the road to profitability and improved land health. Leopold Conservation Award recipients epitomize the creativity, drive and heartfelt conservation commitment it takes,” said Sand County Foundation President Brent Haglund.

Given in honor of renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold, the Leopold Conservation Award inspires other landowners by example and provides a visible forum where farmers, ranchers and other private landowners are recognized as conservation leaders. In his influential 1949 book, “A Sand County Almanac,” Leopold called for an ethical relationship between people and the land they own and manage, which he called “an evolutionary possibility and an ecological necessity.”

“California’s future gets brighter only if we all do our part,” said Sustainable Conservation Executive Director Ashley Boren. “The Leopold Conservation Award celebrates those deserving, but often overlooked, landowner heroes who do their part every day to steward our environment in ways that benefit people and the planet. The Leopold Conservation Award is proud to have recognized a diverse range of agricultural operations over nearly a decade – including CSA, dairy, rice, vegetable and tree crop farmers, as well as cattle ranchers.”

“The Leopold Conservation Award recognizes unique yet replicable strategies a farmer or rancher has developed in managing their land, to be the best steward of the natural resources on their farm or ranch. California farmers and ranchers are the most productive in the world and are trendsetters at maximizing the fullest potential of their land to produce food and other agricultural products with the least environmental impacts,” said California Farm Bureau Federation President Paul Wenger.

Nominations must be postmarked by July 10, 2015, and mailed to Leopold Conservation Award c/o Sustainable Conservation, 98 Battery Street, Suite 302, San Francisco, CA 94111. The 2015 California Leopold Conservation Award will be presented in December at the California Farm Bureau Federation’s Annual Meeting in Reno.

The California Leopold Conservation Award is possible thanks to generous contributions from many organizations, including The Nature Conservancy, American AgCredit, the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, DuPont Pioneer and The Mosaic Company.

ABOUT THE LEOPOLD CONSERVATION AWARD

The Leopold Conservation Award is a competitive award that recognizes landowner achievement in voluntary conservation. The award consists of a crystal award depicting Aldo Leopold and $10,000. Sand County Foundation presents Leopold Conservation Awards in California, Colorado, Kansas, Kentucky, Nebraska, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

ABOUT SAND COUNTY FOUNDATION

Sand County Foundation is a non-profit conservation organization dedicated to working with private landowners to advance the use of ethical and scientifically sound land management practices that benefit the environment. www.sandcounty.net

ABOUT CALIFORNIA FARM BUREAU FEDERATION

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of more than 74,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 6.2 million Farm Bureau members.

ABOUT SUSTAINABLE CONSERVATION

Sustainable Conservation helps California thrive by uniting people to solve the toughest challenges facing our land, air and water. Since 1993, it has brought together business, landowners and government to steward the resources that we all depend on in ways that make economic sense. Sustainable Conservation believes common ground is California’s most important resource.—-

Mana Mostatabi | Digital Marketing & Communications Strategist

98 Battery Street, Suite 302 | San Francisco, CA 94111

(415) 977-0380 x350 | http://www.suscon.org