Keeping HLB out of California Groves

Ernie NeffCalifornia Corner, HLB Management

HLB

The recent annual report from California’s Citrus Pest & Disease Prevention Program (CPDPP) offered insights into ways the state’s citrus industry has kept HLB out of commercial groves.

Jim Gorden, chair of the group’s Citrus Pest & Disease Prevention Committee, stated that the California industry has “invested countless hours, leveraged millions of dollars and created dozens of innovative partnerships” in the HLB effort. He urged growers to “do everything you reasonably can to prevent Asian citrus psyllid (ACP) and HLB from becoming established or getting too comfortable in your orchard. The cost to manage the ACP is far less than any potential costs or loss to the industry that HLB could pose.”

The report included a statement by Victoria Hornbaker, director of the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s (CDFA) relatively new Citrus Pest and Disease Prevention Division. She noted that the division is funded by California citrus growers and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and administered by CDFA. She reported that moving to online meetings because of COVID-19 “has not only reduced cost, but also increased participation.”

Hornbaker added that her division instituted several changes to increase efficiencies. She stated that those efficiencies included “reducing HLB and areawide ACP treatment areas to a 250-meter area to limit cost and increase completion times.” The HLB mitigation boundaries and areawide buffer treatment areas were previously 400 meters. The reduction to 250 meters was recommended by the committee’s operations subcommittee, chaired by Keith Watkins. Watkins reported that the reduction to 250 meters will “encompass 95% of HLB detections, increase completion times and save resources.”    

The report noted that California has 269,700 acres of commercial citrus and accounts for 52% of the nation’s citrus production. It added that 453 residential citrus trees were confirmed with HLB and removed during the 2019-20 report period, and that 90,826 residential properties were surveyed for ACP.  

See the full CPDPP annual report.

Source: Citrus Pest & Disease Prevention Program

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