California growers adapt to citrus pest rules

02/15/2013 12:37:00 PM
Vicky Boyd

Ted Batkin, president of the Visalia, Calif.-based Citrus Research Board, agreed.

“There’s always some grumbling that comes with an adjustment to change,” he said. “But the majority of the industry has adapted very, very well. Everybody understands what’s going on and why it’s happening.”

The insecticidal treatments have an added benefit, Blakely said.

“I think everyone’s pleased that they’re treating because that’s really what’s going to eradicate the pest if it’s here and we haven’t found it,” he said.

Packinghouses that receive treated fruit from restricted zones must follow approved methods to dispose of the stems and leaves from those loads.

The restrictions are expected to remain in place for about two years, Batkin said.

But that could change if additional Asian citrus psyllids are trapped.

“We know this pest has the capability of moving — it’s moved everywhere it’s gone,” he said. “If the population increases in Southern California, that just puts more pressure on it coming over the Ridge.”

The Tulare County Ag Commissioner’s office also has beefed up trapping of Asian citrus psyllids throughout the county, Iacono said.

In Florida, the citrus industry has incurred more than $3.6 billion in lost revenues due to the pest, according to a January 2012 University of Florida study.

Only one citrus tree has tested positive for greening in California. The residential pummelo tree in the Hacienda Heights area of Los Angeles County, confirmed positive in March 2012, was destroyed.

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