Protecting Citrus From Pests and Diseases

Ernie Neff Pests


The federal Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ) program summarized its efforts to protect the U.S. citrus industry from pests and diseases in a recent report about its fiscal year (FY) 2020 activities. PPQ is part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. A summary of its citrus efforts follows.

PPQ works with citrus growers to combat citrus canker, huanglongbing (HLB) and the Asian citrus psyllid (ACP) that spreads it, sweet orange scab and citrus black spot. For example, PPQ produced and released approximately 5 million parasitoid wasps in FY 2020 to suppress ACP populations in Arizona, California, Louisiana and Texas.

Since 2013, PPQ has led the HLB Multi-Agency Coordination (MAC) Group, which has invested nearly $47 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 FY 2020, the HLB MAC funded seven new projects. The largest of these is the Citrus Research and Field Trials project in Florida, which is designed to improve management of citrus in HLB-affected groves.

Additionally, the HLB MAC supported three projects in California focused on improving scouting and data analysis to support early detection of HLB, standardizing the use of microbial agents targeting HLB, and developing new ACP treatments that will not adversely impact honey bees and other pollinators.

In Texas, the HLB MAC supported a project focused on enhancing productivity in HLB-affected groves through soil health management strategies.

PPQ works with state partners to detect fruit fly outbreaks early and respond rapidly. PPQ and its cooperators maintain a sensitive fruit fly detection network of more than 160,000 traps across California, Florida, New York, Texas and Puerto Rico.

In FY 2020, PPQ eradicated eight of the nine fruit fly outbreaks that started in FYs 2019 and 2020. PPQ continues to address one outbreak in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas. This year, PPQ released an average of 165 million sterile Mexflies per week in southern Texas and northern Mexico to support eradication and control programs in that region.

Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture/Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service/Plant Protection and Quarantine

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