California citrus growers faced significant citrus thrips challenges this season due to the unprecedented rainfall, California Citrus Mutual (CCM) reported. The unusual weather pattern led to uncontrollable conditions in the field.
Reports from the CCM Pest and Disease Task Force indicated that some growers have experienced exterior fruit scarring on as much as 80% of the fruit in individual blocks. The scarring is primarily affecting navels, but there have also been varying impacts to mandarins, lemons and other citrus varieties.
“It’s been an extremely challenging pest season for citrus growers,” said CCM President Casey Creamer. “The industry did its absolute best in trying to control this unprecedented thrips season. Growers bear that cost while also facing the reality that the pest pressure will result in decreased returns in the marketplace.”
The CCM Marketing Committee estimated that 30% of the navel crop has thrips scarring, and the utilized volume will be 8% to 15% under the previous season’s production due to the pest. The committee also estimated that the mandarin and lemon crops will be down 5% compared to the previous season’s utilized production.
Visual effects from thrips have no effect on the interior fruit quality, taste or texture. Fancy fruit, with minimal external scarring or damage, will be a premium commodity this season, CCM stated.
“Despite these challenges, our growers remain optimistic about the fruit quality on the tree this season,” said Creamer. “The overabundance of water has reservoirs full and has reinvigorated the groves after three years of extreme drought conditions.”
According to University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program (UC IPM), citrus thrips are of greatest importance to San Joaquin navel oranges, satsuma mandarins and all types of desert citrus. On fruit, the citrus thrips puncture epidermal cells, leaving scabby, grayish or silvery scars on the rind. Learn more about thrips from UC IPM, including management strategies.
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