Citrus greening disease or huanglongbing (HLB) remains a devastating enemy, but attack plans and potential solutions are beginning to appear.
It continues to devastate Florida, but growers and researchers there continue to test new varieties that are resistant, even ones with genetic engineering.
Meanwhile, California has yet to be hit commercially, but industry leaders continue to educate residents, devote research funds and generally stay ahead of HLB.
Dec. 4 – Florida researchers seek answers in HLB fight
By Tom Karst
Finding a path from Florida’s citrus industry’s rapid decline to a future with promise for growers is what Harold Browning and other citrus researchers in the Sunshine State are looking for.
While genetically engineered solutions may be five to 10 years away, researchers are working on solutions to citrus greening disease that can span the gap between then and now.
“The 60 million or so trees out there now have to be the economic bridge from where we sit with an industry that is heavily in decline to the ability to replant when new trees become available,” said Browning, chief operating officer of the Citrus Research and Development Foundation.
Florida grapefruit acreage has declined from about 108,000 acres in 2001 to 33,800 acres in 2016-17, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Orange acreage in Florida has dropped from 605,000 acres in 2000-01 to 367,500 acres in 2016-17.
Oct. 9 – Research center seen as tool to fight HLB in California
By Jim Offner
California’s citrus industry is about to step up the fight against its major threat: huanglongbing, also known as citrus greening disease.
In the fall, a new $8 million industry-funded facility dedicated to research on HLB is scheduled to open at the University of California-Riverside.
The Biosafety Level 3 plant facility in Riverside will draw on the citrus pest, disease and breeding expertise of local and international scientists and should enable research on the Asian citrus psyllid and huanglongbing that previously couldn’t be done in Southern California, said Joel Nelsen, president of the Exeter-based California Citrus Mutual.
Sept. 4 – Residential HLB find triggers California quarantine
By Chris Koger
A finding of a single tree in Riverside, Calif., with the citrus disease huanglongbing in California has triggered a 94-square mile quarantine area in Riverside and San Bernardino counties.
The California Department of Food and Agriculture and U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the quarantine zone Aug. 28. Boundaries are Interstate 10 on the north, Box Springs Mountain Reserve on the east, Riverside Municipal Airport on the west and East Alessandro Blvd. on the south.
June 26 – HLB now a concern in Alabama’s citrus industry
By Jim Offner
For years, Alabama’s commercial satsuma mandarin production was safe from citrus greening.
Now, after the discovery of the first confirmed instance of the disease, also known as huanglongbing or HLB, an industry that provided fruit to every Alabama school district last year is worried that what happened to Florida’s citrus industry could squash theirs.
“It is a concern,” said Ken Buck, a grower in Irvington, Ala. “We’ve never had greening here, even though we have had the insect that conveys it.”
Jan. 2 – Citrus industry’s outlook one of ‘frustrated optimism’
By Ashley Nickle
The struggle against citrus greening disease, also known as huanglongbing, appears far from over, even as Florida citrus growers stand a better chance now than they did even a few years ago.
Fred Gmitter, a breeder at the Lake Alfred-based Citrus Research and Education Center at the University of Florida, said there are reasons for optimism, but he wasn’t sure the industry as a whole feels like the worst times are behind it.
“There are a lot of people who every year just look at it and say, ‘You know, maybe this is my last year,’ and that’s still going on,” Gmitter said.
“This still is a very serious problem, but there are a number of people ... who are looking at this as a point in time where, if we’re turning the corner (as an industry), they’re going to be there.”