At the beginning of a near-record California navel season comes the bad news that was inevitable. A psyllid was found deep inside California’s citrus producing region, and the industry is debating its quarantine options.
Tulare County Agriculture Commissioner Marilyn Kinoshita and her staff met with about 700 growers, packers, shippers and processors on Nov. 28 to discuss the psyllid find and quarantine.
By Nov. 29, harvest continued without restrictions, but quarantine boundaries and fruit movement rules could be announced as early as the first week of December, said Steve Lyle, public affairs director for the California Department of Agriculture.
Psyllids not only feed on citrus trees, but they can carry citrus greening, a bacterial disease also called huanglongbing or HLB, which is about the worst thing that could happen to California’s citrus industry.
California officials and the citrus industry have taken the greening threat seriously the past few years, and they surely will now.
They’ve also taken the long-term industry health approach and have been overly cautious.
Citrus buyers should not blame them if they do that again, whether that means a tight quarantine, citrus without cosmetic leaves and stems or simply no fresh citrus for a time for some markets.
Consumers have been through freezes and other disasters, and as long as they know why there’s no citrus, they will understand.
They won’t accept the demise of the California citrus industry, though, and that can be avoided by winning these battles.