HLB Voluntary Controls for California Growers

Len WilcoxCalifornia Corner, HLB Management

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The Citrus Pest & Disease Prevention Committee of the Citrus Research Board (CRB) has endorsed a list of voluntary actions growers can undertake if HLB-infected trees are found in their vicinity. The voluntary actions go beyond the required regulatory response.

Beth Grafton-Cardwell, entomologist with University of California Riverside, explained the recommendations during a recent interview with AgNet West multimedia journalist Brian German.

“These are suggested actions, but it’s based on some pretty sound science,” she said. “We’ve been using the scientific information and integrating that into what growers normally do and just trying to see where we can help them up their game so they get additional protections against the disease.”

Grafton-Cardwell said the recommendations are broken down into five phases based upon the proximity of the risk. “They give growers a list of things they can do to go above and beyond what the Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) is going to do if there’s an HLB find anywhere near their orchard.”

She explained that the recommended actions are based upon specific scenarios that have different levels of risk.

“Scenario one is you’re far removed from any known HLB,” said Grafton-Cardwell. “You should be doing certain things like scouting and watching for the disease.”

The grower’s response elevates with the degree of risk that the HLB infection will spread to the grower’s trees. “Scenarios two, three and four are when you’re five miles away from a find of HLB, or one mile away from a find, or there’s a find in your orchard.”

While these voluntary actions exceed the regulatory response required by CDFA, they provide an extra level of protection for citrus orchards. According to the CRB, the recommendations represent the most effective tools known to the citrus industry at this time, and growers are encouraged to use as many methods as are feasible for their operation to limit the spread of the Asian citrus psyllid (ACP) and HLB. The CRB adds that the cost to manage the ACP is far less than any potential costs or loss to the industry should HLB take hold throughout California.

The recommendations are provided in a report published by the CRB online at https://citrusinsider.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/Voluntary-Actions-Best-Practices-COMPLETE-FINAL.pdf.

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Len Wilcox

Correspondent at Large for Citrus Industry Magazine and AgNet West