Three citrus trees that produce inedible fruit at the UC Lindcove Research and Extension Center in Visalia may be a game-changer for the citrus industry, reported Ezra David Romero on Valley Public Radio.
The trees are thought to be resistant to huanglongbing, a severe disease of citrus that has devastated the Florida industry and could become a serious problem in California. The citrus-saving potential of the three 34-year-old trees was outlined in an article by UC Agriculture and Natural Resources writer Hazel White in the most recent issue of California Agriculture journal.
UC Riverside citrus breeder Mikeal Roose collected seed from the trees and will test seedlings as soon as they are large enough.
"So what (breeders) have to do is cross this with some edible varieties and eventually create something that has the gene for resistance, but also the genes for good fruit," said Beth Grafton-Cardwell, Lindcove director and research entomologist.
Huanglongbing disease has cut citrus production in Florida by more than half. It's been found in residential citrus trees in Southern California, but hasn't reached the state's vast commercial orchards yet. Grafton-Cardwell said she expects the disease will arrive in 4 or 5 years.
“What they are really doing is buying time until disease resistant trees become available, or there is some treatment for the (huanglongbing) disease,” said Matt Daugherty, a UC Cooperative Extension entomology specialist based at UC Riverside.
The reporter also spoke to Beth Grafton-Cardwell, who is a UCCE entomology specialist at UC Riverside and director of the UC Lindcove Research and Extension Center in Tulare County. She said that it is unlikely huanglongbing was completely wiped out in the Southern California areas where infected trees have been found, even though CDFA destroyed the infected trees.
A tree can be infected for a year before it shows symptoms, she said.
Grafton-Cardwell asks homeowners to monitor backyard trees for signs of Asian citrus psyllid and report any finds to CDFA or their county agricultural commissioner's office. For more information, see the video below.
"Basically, you just look really closely (at new growth) with any kind of magnifying device you have to see if you can find any insects on there," Grafton-Cardwell said.
If tiny yellow eggs, sesame seed-sized nymphs, or ACP adults are found, take action. Maps, treatment protocols and other information that detail what to do when ACP is present are available at http://ucanr.edu/acp.
Since ACP can spread the devastating citrus disease huanglongbing (HLB), controlling the insect population will buy time for researchers working around the world to find a way to grow healthy and delicious citrus fruit in the presence of HLB.
Yurong reported that the disease has been found in a dozen Southern California trees. Grafton-Cardwell figures Valley trees will ultimately get infected.
"HLB is going to come. We fully expect it to come up here because it rides in the bodies of the psyllids," she said.
“It's really important to detect Asian citrus psyllid in backyard trees because one psyllid can carry the disease from tree to tree in a residential landscape,” Windbiel-Rojas. “Citrus growers, they treat all their fields, but home gardeners don't necessarily treat or monitor their backyard trees so it can spread a lot faster in backyards than in managed citrus orchards.”
Stories about the call to check trees this spring for Asian citrus psyllid also appeared in:
- El Informador del Valle
- The Porterville Recorder
- Monterey County Herald
- Turlock Journal
- Santa Cruz Sentinel
- Morning Ag Clips
- Hoy, a Los Angeles Times Spanish language publication
- Valley Public Radio, Fresno
- AgNewsWest newsletter
- California Department of Food and Agriculture Planting Seeds Blog
- Inland News Today, Riverside
- East County Magazine, San Diego
- Highland Community News, Highland
- Central Valley Business Times, Fresno
- KXO Radio, Imperial
- AgNetWest.com, California
- UC Office of the President News Page, Oakland
View a four-minute video about Asian citrus psyllid here:
The early morning agriculture show on KMJ 580 in Fresno opened this morning with comments about UC's new Asian citrus psyllid website from Beth Grafton-Cardwell, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Entomology at UC Riverside.
"There are a lot of websites out there relating to Asian citrus psyllid and huanglongbing disease," Grafton-Cardwell said. "What I tried to do in this one is give it a management focus with action steps: Here's where the bug and disease are, here's what you should do if you're a grower, here's what you should do if you're a homeowner. It connects the dots."
The story notes that the website includes a cost estimator for growers and homeowners that was developed by Karen Jetter, economist with the UC Agricultural Issues Center. The estimator lists effective pesticides and calculates the costs of application.
"It's a good way to figure out how you can help control Asian citrus psyllid," Grafton-Cardwell said.
The new website is at http://ucanr.edu/sites/acp.
This week a quarantine goes into effect in some parts of Tulare County to stop the spread of Asian citrus psyllid, according to a 3-minute story on The California Report. The decision comes after officials found ACP in traps near Strathmore and Terra Bella. For an update on the pest and the disease it can carry, The California Report's Rachael Myrow spoke with Mark Hoddle, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Entomology at UC Riverside.
Myrow asked why the effort to prevent movement of ACP has not been successful.
"It's very difficult to police the movement of all types of citrus plants in and out of infested areas," Hoddle said. "People may accidentally and unwittingly move plants that have Asian citrus psyllid on them out of infested areas in Southern California to uninfested areas. Another way these psyllids may move is they potentially have the ability to hitchhike on farm machinery or even vehicles."
Listen to the full interview here: