California citrus industry rolls out best practices against HLB

California citrus industry rolls out best practices against HLB

California’s Citrus & Pest Disease Prevention Committee, a grower-funded initiative, has endorsed a set of best practices for growers in response to the threat of huanglongbing (HLB).

The recommendations were developed based on how near a grove is to an HLB detection, and supplement what is required by the California Department of Food and Agriculture when the disease is detected, according to a news release.

The recommendations cover four scenarios: orchards outside of an HLB quarantine area, orchards within one to five miles of an HLB detection, orchards within a mile of an HLB detection but not known to be infected, and orchards with HLB.

Recommendations represent the most effective tools currently known to the industry, according to the release.

Each scenario addresses scouting for the Asian citrus psyllid, the vector for the disease, protecting young trees/replants, controlling the psyllids with treatments, and other aspects of controlling the disease.

“We know the cost to manage the Asian citrus psyllid is far less than any potential costs or loss to the industry should HLB take hold throughout our state,” Keith Watkins, chairman of the task force that developed the best practices and vice president of farming at Bee Sweet Citrus, said in the release. “These voluntary best practices are meant to serve as a box of tools so growers can use as many as are feasible for their operation in order to limit the spread of the psyllid and disease.”

HLB has not yet been detected in a commercial grove in California, but has spread throughout residential areas of Los Angeles, Orange and Riverside counties, according to the release. It has infected more than 1,400 citrus trees, and 1,003 square miles are under quarantine.

“Our state’s citrus industry has held the line against HLB since the first detection seven years ago,” Jim Gorden, chairman of the Citrus Pest & Disease Prevention Program and a Tulare County citrus grower, said in the release. “We should commend our efforts but must not forget the devastating impact HLB could have on our orchards and our livelihood.”

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