The U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) recently released an annual report titled “Plant Protection and Quarantine: Helping U.S. Agriculture Thrive — Across the Country and Around the World.” The document includes updates on efforts to manage citrus diseases.
“PPQ (Plant Protection and Quarantine) stands shoulder-to-shoulder with citrus growers to combat citrus canker, huanglongbing (HLB or citrus greening), Asian citrus psyllid, sweet orange scab and citrus black spot,” states the report. “Our Citrus Health Response Program supports the U.S. citrus industry’s continued ability to produce, harvest, process and ship citrus fruits and nursery stock despite the presence of these diseases. We use flexible regulatory protocols that allow growers to move citrus out of quarantined areas to packinghouses if they follow mitigation procedures to prevent the disease or its insect vector from spreading. As a result, nearly 10,000 businesses moved regulated host materials such as citrus fruit and nursery stock under compliance agreements in fiscal year 2019.”
According to the report, the Citrus Health Response Program also supported the production and release of the Tamarixia radiata wasp in 2019. This parasitoid wasp kills the Asian citrus psyllid (ACP), the insect that spreads HLB. The wasp has “helped reduce ACP populations in Texas by more than 50 percent and by as much as 99 percent around California release sites,” says the report.
“Research remains a critical priority if we’re going to ensure the U.S. citrus industry survives and thrives long term,” continues the report. “Since 2013, PPQ has led the HLB multi-agency coordination group, which has invested nearly $38.5 million to speed the development of tools that could help the U.S. citrus industry fight back against HLB. Projects have focused on four critical areas: ACP control, infected tree therapies, technologies to protect new plantings against HLB infection, and early detection technologies. In 2019, cooperators conducted field trials of several promising citrus varieties, evaluated treatments and nutrient applications that have shown promise in lab settings, and explored the molecular and genetic aspects of the disease to combat HLB and ACP, to name a few.”