There are many parties involved in the fight to save California’s $2 billion citrus industry. Commercial citrus groves are being monitored, and CDFA is orchestrating sampling programs for the Asian citrus psyllid and HLB and coordinating treatment programs in key areas of the state.
The Citrus Pest & Disease Prevention Program is also implementing an aggressive public education campaign aimed at enlisting the support of homeowners to aide in the fight.
Additionally, researchers at University of California-Riverside are testing the viability of a biocontrol program using a natural predator of the Asian citrus psyllid, a tiny wasp called Tamarixia radiata. While Tamarixia is not a silver bullet to stopping the Asian citrus psyllid, it is one of many control options being explored in residential areas of Southern California.
The California Citrus Research Board is also conducting research aimed at long-term solutions to HLB and the psyllid. There is no cure for HLB, and even nutritional programs will not prevent the disease from progressing and eventually killing trees.
What we know now is that the best way to protect citrus trees from the disease is to stop the Asian citrus psyllid from spreading. Inspection and cooperation with treatment programs is critical until a long-term solution can be found.
We cannot sit idly and let this disease overtake our industry. By working together and taking action now, we can ensure California’s vibrant citrus industry remains for our families, workers, neighbors and customers to enjoy for future generations.
Victoria Hornbaker is program manager of the Citrus Pest & Disease Prevention Program and a San Joaquin Valley citrus grower. Nick Hill is chairman of the Citrus Pest & Disease Prevention Program.