Disease watch

Sep 8, 2008

The Asian citrus psyllid's border crossing into San Diego County earlier this month is prompting an emotional reaction from growers. Called the "mother of all killer bugs" by Fresh Plaza, the psyllid is most feared for its ability to spread citrus greening disease.

Farmers' comments in a story that appeared in North (San Diego) County Times reflect their dismay.

  • "Honestly, I don't even want to know I have the pest. Because once I know I have the pest, it's all over. I might as well throw in the towel. Honestly, I don't see any way of stopping it. What are you going to do? Tent 80 acres?" - Bob Polito, a Valley Center grower and owner of Polito Family Farms.
  • "The only remedy for a plant is to take a chain saw to it so it doesn't become a point of infection for the rest of the crops." - San Diego County's agriculture commissioner, Bob Atkins.
  • "It's getting to a point where it just pushes out the domestic farmer." - Ben Drake, owner of Drake Enterprises iin Temecula.

Meanwhile, a UC Riverside graduate student has discovered and named a new bacterial pathogen that could be responsible for a devastating condition in tomatoes called "psyllid yellows," according to a story in Capital Press. The bacterium could be linked to the pathogen that causes citrus greening disease.

By Jeannette E. Warnert
Author - Communications Specialist