Meanwhile, CCRB supports research on two focus areas related to the psyllid and HLB: improved detection tools, so we can find an infection in a tree earlier, and better trapping systems that have some level of attractancy.
So far, we’ve identified a library of 50 volatile organic compounds that show promise to serve as an attractant. These will be tested in 2010 to select the best compounds and applied to the traps for confirmation. We’re also researching improved formulations for treatment, better use of crop protection tools and better organic solutions to suppress the psyllid.
It’s critical to note this pest will not travel on packed cartons of fruit, nor will it or HLB impact human health. The problem is strictly contained in groves and backyards and does not affect distributors, wholesalers or retailers.
Thus far, the psyllid has been found in backyard citrus in parts of San Diego, Imperial, Riverside, San Bernardino and Los Angeles counties, sparking quarantines in these areas. Tests have been negative for the disease, but the pest’s presence is a warning sign.
The most recent psyllid detection in Valley Center, Calif., is a short distance from a commercial grove, where the abundance of citrus trees will allow the pest to spread and reproduce more easily and make it more difficult to control.
While the psyllid and HLB can be a death sentence for California citrus, we’re not going down without a fight. California has joined Florida and Texas to develop joint research to meet the U.S. citrus industry’s needs while allowing each state to address its priorities. Continued research programs will find management solutions and in-plant solutions to protect trees.
The citrus industry will continue to be viable well into the future, as technological advances find solutions.
Meanwhile, we rely on the support from our grower community — which earlier this year voted to generate more than $9 million annually to help fund the battle to control and eradicate the psyllid — and others with a vested interest in saving California citrus.
For more information, contact CCRB at (559) 738-0246 or visit CaliforniaCitrusThreat.org.
Ted Batkin is president of the California Citrus Research Board.