Seeking Psyllid Controls for Organic Citrus

Tacy Callies Organic, Psyllids


At the recent California Citrus Conference held in Visalia, Monique Rivera, assistant cooperative Extension specialist at University of California Riverside, presented information about management of Asian citrus psyllid (ACP) in organic citrus grown in the San Joaquin Valley.

“There is consumer demand that needs to be met for organic citrus,” Rivera said. “So there is a quick transition in the valley to organic management systems.”

She said that managing ACP with organics can be very challenging and that the pest is difficult to control once an infestation occurs.

“You can translate some of the programs or some of the styles of management from conventional to organic, but once you introduce the ACP issue and it being a quarantine pest, this creates a lot of difficulties.”

According to Rivera, ACP management in organic citrus will cause increased costs. “But  compared to conventional growers, there might not be as many options available if this pest shows up in organic citrus production,” she said. “There’s tools, but there’s not a lot of efficacy. Organic materials are softer materials on pests. It takes a lot more creativity in management to figure out the right combinations and how to align the management of a pest like ACP with the management of other pests.”

Rivera discussed some trials of organic materials. She said PyGanic EC 5.0 insecticide used with Nu-Film-P spreader is a combination that has yielded consistently good results against ACP.

“PyGanic is the natural form of pyrethroid called a pyrethrin. So those mechanisms of resistance will be similar, but the overuse of that product could create an even more detrimental effect,” Rivera cautioned. “So, it’s really critical to figure out other ways to approach treating this pest. What we discovered through our trials is that we really need something that’s good against ACP eggs. Because while PyGanic is effective, if you have overlapping generations of Asian citrus psyllids, it won’t take care of the eggs. So, you’re basically going to have a consistent issue as those eggs hatch into nymphs. And then your problem continues on from ACP generation to generation.”

Rivera said she cannot stress enough the importance of scouting for ACP. “There’s a phrase that goes around Extension communities: ‘When in doubt, scout.’ That’s because you really need to know the pest, what stage it’s in and how it’s developing. We don’t want this to migrate into commercial citrus. So, it’s very important to stay vigilant.” She noted that in 2020, the southern San Joaquin Valley had the highest amount of ACP finds in the fall that it had ever had.

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About the Author

Len Wilcox

Correspondent at Large for Citrus Industry Magazine and AgNet West

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