California citrus growers have formally been asked by a committee of their peers to begin a series of best management practices aimed at protecting themselves and the industry from the scourge that is Huanglongbing.
These BMP’s are voluntary, but highly recommended as the deadly citrus disease has claimed over 1,300 citrus trees across southern California. To date no confirmed case of HLB in a commercial grove has been announced. The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) continues to test plant and pest samples collected by state inspectors.
Growers can visit the Citrus Insider website for detailed information on the voluntary program.
The practices were approved by the Citrus Pest and Disease Prevention Program, a grower-funded program administered by the CDFA to advise the state secretary of agriculture about efforts to combat serious pests and disease that could threaten the industry.
The BMP’s address four scenarios, ranging from growers with orchards outside of an HLB quarantine to orchards within a quarantine zone. There are currently commercial groves within the HLB quarantine surrounding the city of Riverside. The University of California, Riverside and its citrus research grove are in that quarantine zone.
Among the practice’s growers are encouraged to employ include regular scouting for the Asian citrus psyllid, the tiny insect known to cause HLB by vectoring a bacterial infection blamed for killing citrus trees around the world. Insects feeding on infected trees carry the bacterium with them and inject it into other trees that they feed upon.
Growers are also encouraged to use approved insecticides to control psyllid populations. Growers should follow University of California guidelines for treating their conventional and organic groves. Citrus farmers within one mile of an HLB quarantine, or those included within one are further asked to test plant materials from all border trees and psyllids collected from the property through approved laboratories.
Groves within 1-5 miles of an HLB quarantine should test foliage and psyllids from 10 trees in each corner using direct testing protocols.