Sometimes a problem doesn’t take on a sense of urgency until it’s in your own backyard.
With the recent discovery of huanglonbing (or citrus greening) in California, that metaphor is all too real for growers in the Golden State.
Following the find of an infected citrus tree in a Los Angeles-area backyard, the California Department of Food and Agriculture established a toll-free number for residents to report infected trees.
Not a bad idea. CDFA deserves commendation for its swift action.
But the U.S. Department of Agriculture has taken the effort a step further.
Enter the USDA’s “Save our Citrus” iPhone app (an Android version will be coming soon). Story, A3
App users can identify citrus greening and other diseases that afflict the fruit. Plus, it links to a YouTube channel with additional information.
The app (which is free to download) allows users to upload pictures of their citrus trees, leaves or fruit and receive a response back regarding the possible presence of greening or other disease.
Ideally, this could help speed identification and removal of infected trees and isolate the outbreak.
Enlisting the public in the fight to contain a possibly grave threat to California’s citrus industry is a smart move by the USDA.
Even under the best-case scenario, there is only so much time and staffing that USDA and CDFA can earmark to halt the advance of huanglonbing.
Smartphone-wielding Californians give the battle against citrus greening much-needed additional boots on the ground.
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