As California HLB Detections Rise, Priorities Refocus

Daniel CooperCalifornia Corner, Citrus, Citrus Greening, HLB Management

hlbBy Brian German

A series of strategic planning sessions have helped to craft a more detail-oriented approach to address the spread of Asian citrus psyllid (ACP) and management of huanglongbing (HLB) detections. As of Oct. 9, there have been 906 positive HLB detections in California.

“The real hot spot for us right now is Orange County. We’re finding a lot of HLB-positive trees in Garden Grove and Anaheim,” said Victoria Hornbaker, interim citrus program director with the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA). “A lot of what we’re finding is in response to our intensive survey that we do around an original HLB detection.”

Hornbaker spoke at the recent California Citrus Conference in Visalia, laying out some of the priorities of the Citrus Pest and Disease Prevention Program that were developed through the strategic planning sessions. The number-one priority remains to find and to eradicate HLB through quick detection and the removal of diseased trees. “Priority two is really preventing that artificial movement of ACP, and that’s through quarantine and quarantine enforcement,” said Hornbaker. “Priority three is treating for ACP to keep those ACP populations down.”

Some of the more recent developments in the fight against ACP and HLB were the implementation of quarantine zones and the ability to update further HLB detections in real-time. Collaboration between different agencies has also allowed for advancing potential eradication methods. “Priority four is trying to work on better sharing of information and streamlining and using scientific information to influence the program,” Hornbaker said.

She noted that CDFA outreach partner Nuffer, Smith, Tucker played an integral role in contacting industry members and engaging the community for opinions on what the best course of action would be moving forward. “We’ve really, I think, tried to be very robust in our outreach and education, but there’s always ways to improve there as well, so that’s another priority that we established,” Hornbaker said.

Brian German is a multimedia journalist for AgNet West.

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