Subtropical Fruit Crops Research & Education
University of California
Subtropical Fruit Crops Research & Education

Posts Tagged: hlb

Citrus Thrives in Washington State?

PULLMAN, Wash. – Washington State University researchers have for the first time grown the bacteria in a laboratory that causes Citrus Greening Disease, considered the world's most harmful citrus disease.

Being able to grow the elusive and poorly understood bacterium, Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus (CLas), will make it easier for researchers to find treatments for the disease that has destroyed millions of acres of orange, grapefruit and lemon groves around the world and has devastated the citrus industry in Florida.

The researchers, including Phuc Ha, postdoctoral research associate, Haluk Beyenal, Paul Hohenschuh Professor in the Gene and Linda Voiland School of Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering, David Gang and Ruifeng He, from WSU's Institute of Biological Chemistry, Anders Omsland, from the Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health, and researchers from the University of Florida and University of Arizona, report on their work in the journal, Biofilm.

WSU was selected three years ago for a $2 million U.S. Department of Agriculture grant to study the bacteria, in part, because Washington has no citrus industry. The disease, formally known as Huánglóngbìng, (HLB), is spread by Asian citrus psyllids insects. It attacks the vascular system of citrus trees and causes fruit to become green, misshapen, and bitter-tasting.

A critical step in coming up with weapons to fight the disease is being able to study it in the lab, but the CLas bacterium is notoriously difficult to grow. With a small genome, CLas is thought to depend on very specific nutrient availability and possibly compounds secreted by other nearby bacteria. When researchers used a traditional rich media that they typically use for growing bacteria, they mostly grew bacteria other than CLas.

So, in order to conduct research, scientists have had to get bacterial samples directly from the trees themselves or from the insects that spread it, which is time-consuming and cumbersome. Trying to conduct experiments has also been difficult because, unlike neat lab cultures, bacterial samples gathered from a sick tree vary, depending on where and when the sample is gathered and the level of infection.

Without being able to grow the bacteria in a lab, researchers have been unable to even absolutely confirm that the bacteria, in fact, causes the disease.

In their paper, the researchers for the first time successfully established and maintained CLas bacterial cultures outside of its host.

Using infected citrus tissue as their starting point, the researchers developed a biofilm, a kind of bacterial city that allows a variety of bacteria to thrive. Instead of a rich growth medium that would crowd out the CLas, the researchers severely limited the growth of partner bacteria and created a medium with the specific nutrients, acidity, incubation temperatures, and oxygen levels that are optimal for CLas.

The CLas thrived – an important first step.

“We were really excited,” said Beyenal, “but then we wondered if we could re-grow it.”

The researchers were able to transfer the orange-colored culture and grow new cultures in their biofilm reactors, which they have maintained for more than two years.

“We can do this for as long as we want,” said Beyenal.

Beyenal's group is now working to purify the culture, which will further help researchers to study it.  They are also developing genetic-based methods to understand and mitigate the spread of the disease.

Media contacts:

  • Haluk Beyenal, Hohenschuh Distinguished Professor, Gene and Linda Voiland School of Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering, 509-335-6607,
  • David Gang, Professor, Institute of Biological Chemistry, 509-335-0550,
  • Tina Hilding, communications director, Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture, 509-335-5095,

Photo: Phuc Ha and Haluk Beyenal examine a bacterial culture in the laboratory. 

hlb culture lab
hlb culture lab

Posted on Friday, October 11, 2019 at 6:18 AM
Tags: citrus (338), CLas (1), hlb (71)

Florida Orange Production UP!!!

The USDA has summarized the US citrus crop for 2018-19 and it is up for both California and Florida, with CA accounting for 51% of US production! But the Florida orange crop is  up from last year.  This is the state that is getting hammered by huanglongbing amongst all the other demands being made on that industry.  This is good news for citrus. 

The full report is Here

But the summary is:

Citrus utilized production for the 2018-19 season totaled 7.94 million tons, up 31 percent from the 2017-18 season. California accounted for 51 percent of total United States citrus production; Florida totaled 44 percent, and Texas and Arizona produced the remaining 5 percent.

Florida's orange production, at 71.8 million boxes, is up 59 percent from the previous season.Grapefruit utilization in Florida, at 4.51 million boxes, is up 16 percent from last season's utilization. Florida's total citrus utilization increased 56 percent from the previous season. Bearing citrus acreage, at 387,100 acres, is 13,800 acres below the 2017-18 season.

Utilized citrus production in California increased 15 percent from the 2017-18 season. California's all orange production, at 49.8 million boxes, is 13 percent higher than the previous season. Grapefruit production is down 16 percent from the 2017-18 season but tangerine and mandarin production is up 35 percent. Utilized production of citrus in Texas is up 29 percent from the 2017-18 season. Orange production is up 33 percent from the previous season and grapefruit production increased 27 percent. Total citrus production in Arizona's lemon production is up 35 percent from last season.

The value of the 2018-19 United States citrus crop increased 1 percent from last season, to $3.35 billion (packing house-door equivalent). Orange value of production decreased 7 percent from last season and grapefruit value is down 1 percent.

Tangerine and mandarin value of production is 31 percent higher than last season but lemon value of production is down 4 percent.

Overall comparisons discussed above are based on similar fruit types. The revised production and utilization estimates are based on all data available at the end of the marketing season, including information from marketing orders, shipments, and processor records. Allowances are made for recorded local utilization and home use. Estimates for the 2018-19 California Valencia oranges and grapefruit are preliminary.

BUT, the latest news from the Central Valley navel forecast is that it is down,

The 2019-20 California navel crop is down 7% from last season, according to the first U.S. Department of Agriculture estimate.

With harvest expected to begin in October, the California navel  forecast is 76 million (40-pound) cartons, down 7%  percent from the previous year, the USDA said Sept. 12.

Farming is a roller coaster.

citrus cornucopia
citrus cornucopia

Posted on Thursday, October 3, 2019 at 2:29 PM
Tags: California (13), citrus (338), Florida (3), HLB (71), production (10)

Dogs on The Trail of HLB

A team of dogs trained to identify Huanglongbing-infected citrus trees by scent has detected evidence of early HLB infection in commercial groves in Ventura County.

The canine visit was arranged on behalf of the ACP-HLB Task Force by Farm Bureau of Ventura County, which signed a contract with the commercial company that trains and manages the dog teams. Four dogs and two handlers from F1K9, along with the company's operations manager, departed from Florida on July 24 and arrived in Ventura on July 26. Grove scouting began July 29 and ended Aug. 1.

During that time, the team inspected approximately 3,500 trees on 20 ranches in three major citrus production areas: the Las Posas Valley, the Santa Clara River valley, and the Ojai Valley. The dogs alerted on 211 trees, indicating early HLB infection is present in all three areas.

In preparation for the scouting visit, we prioritized potential locations on the basis of four criteria:(1) the presence of "hot spots" where plant and/or ACP samples yielded inconclusive DNA test results during the California Department of Food and Agriculture's periodic HLB surveys; (2) proximity to major transportation arteries; (3) a long history of established Asian citrus psyllid populations; and (4) a low level of participation in ACP suppression efforts by both growers and homeowners.

We also sought volunteers who would allow their ranches to be scouted, agree to pay for the cost (about $4.50 per tree), and agree to remove suspect trees. We agreed to keep the specific locations confidential unless granted permission to share that information by the owner.

The ranches the dogs scouted included one west of Fillmore along Highway 126, one west of Santa Paula without highway frontage, eight at the east end of the Ojai Valley, one outside of Moorpark along Highway 23, one north of Somis without highway frontage, and nine along a 4-mile stretch of Highway 118 west of Somis.

The dogs alerted on a single tree at one of the eight ranches they scouted in the Ojai Valley. Dogs indicated early HLB infection in multiple trees at every other location they scouted.

Although more than 1,600 HLB-infected trees have been confirmed and removed in urban yards in Los Angeles, Orange and Riverside counties, the recent dog alerts here are the first evidence of widespread HLB infection in commercial citrus in California. It is also the first time this early detection technique (EDT) has been deployed for non-experimental purposes, as a tool for commercial growers to make decisions about tree removal to potentially eliminate sources of infection and halt or delay the epidemic's spread. (Up-to-date summaries of the HLB epidemic can be found here:

Because neither the U.S. Department of Agriculture nor the California Department of Food and Agriculture recognize dog alerts as direct proof of the presence of the causal agent of HLB, the canine alerts do not trigger regulatory action. This allows growers to remove suspect trees voluntarily without the complications and cost associated with quarantine requirements that would be triggered by confirmation through official DNA testing.

Despite their non-regulatory status, the dogs' ability to accurately identify early HLB infection in citrus trees has been scientifically demonstrated and validated. The four canines that traveled to Ventura County last month are part of a 19-dog group trained to detect HLB through a multi-year research and development program funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and overseen by Dr. Tim Gottwald at the USDA research station in Fort Pierce, Fla. Dr. Gottwald has presented updates on the project at the last four International Research Conferences on HLB, including the most recent one this year in Riverside, as well as at many other scientific gatherings. One of his presentations on the project is available to view online.

The dog's indication of early HLB infection in local commercial groves is a watershed moment in the history of Ventura County's citrus industry. We've long known this day would come, but that doesn't prevent the news from landing as a gut punch. The knowledge we are gaining through strategic deployment of the canine team, however, gives growers here a fighting chance to stem the epidemic's spread while there is still time to do so

And so far, the distribution pattern of dog-alert trees - in general, widely scattered along grove perimeters - suggests we may be catching the epidemic in its very early stages. If this proves to be the case countywide, prompt tree removal and a zero-tolerance policy toward the Asian citrus psyllid - meaning total commitment to the ACP-suppression treatment program - may buy us years of continued viability and profitability even in the face of this threat.

To that point, it is more critical than ever for ACP to be well-controlled: No psyllids means no spread of disease. Growers should continue to treat when asked to for the area-wide treatments. But in addition, Dr. Beth Grafton-Cardwell of UC Riverside now recommends that perimeters be scouted every two weeks, and if psyllid eggs or nymphs are found, that the orchard be treated immediately. These additional treatments, above and beyond the area-wide treatments, must be applied whenever psyllids are found, to keep ACP suppressed below detectable levels.

We are planning to bring the dogs back out for additional scouting as soon as it is feasible. We need to visit other areas that meet the risk-factor prioritization test, so we can establish a baseline picture of how HLB is distributed throughout the county. This will help guide our ACP-suppression and HLB-eradication strategy going forward.

Potential participants are welcome to contact Farm Bureau CEO John Krist for inclusion on the list of properties prioritized for future scouting, so long as they are willing to pay for the cost (currently estimated at about $4.50 per tree), and agree to remove suspect trees. The dogs' time is too valuable and their availability too limited to deploy them where the information they provide won't be acted upon. Ultimately, our intent is to have a team based here permanently, but that will take time and money. We're exploring ways to make it happen.

For a full report on the Ventura County scouting visit, including documents describing the scientific basis of the canine program, go to

dog survey
dog survey

Posted on Friday, August 30, 2019 at 6:08 AM
Tags: acp (86), citrus (338), dogs (4), hlb (71)

HLB-Positive Psyllid Find

An Asian citrus psyllid (ACP) sample – confirmed positive for Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus (CLas) – was collected approximately seven miles south of the U.S.-Mexico border on the eastern outskirts of Tijuana, Mexico earlier this month. This area does not have any commercial citrus production or nurseries nearby.

This is the first time that a CLas-positive psyllid sample has been found in the area since the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) began its cooperative program with Mexico. The USDA works cooperatively with Mexico to conduct area wide treatments, biocontrol and surveys in the border region to help prevent the spread of Huanglongbing (HLB). A 400-meter radius around the find site is being treated. Additional ACP samples in the same area are being collected for testing. This ACP detection does not result in a U.S. quarantine expansion.

The best way prevent the spread of ACP into commercial citrus groves is to monitor for the pest and disease symptoms and follow the UC Integrated Pest Management treatment guidelines: Do not move citrus plants, foliage or fruit into or out of your area, and especially across state or international borders. This could unknowingly contribute to spread of the pest and disease.

If you see suspect ACP or HLB symptoms in your orchard, please notify the California Department of Food and Agriculture Pest Hotline immediately at 800-491-1899.


ACP mounted
ACP mounted

Posted on Thursday, August 29, 2019 at 8:28 AM
Tags: acp (86), citrus (338), hlb (71)

Where Is HLB? Where is ACP? In California?

The Asian Citrus Psyllid Distribution and Management Site provides you with a zoomable map to view psyllids, HLB, Psyllid Management areas, parasite releases and management information.  But if you are on the go, and would like to simply see on your phone where HLB infected trees are in relation to your orchard, you can use the HLB Grower App.  It's a web-based app found by entering into your phone browser, which you can then bookmark for future reference.  The HLBgrowerApp provides a zoomable map or address bar to locate your orchard.  When you click on the location of the orchard, it creates a circle around that point on the map and tells you if the orchard is more than or less than 5 miles from a known HLB infection.  It also provides you with a link to the voluntary grower response plan posted on the CitrusInsider website.  The voluntary grower response plan talks about what you can do to intensify protection against psyllids and HLB as the disease approaches your region.   

Scan for the HLB App:

hlb map
hlb map

Posted on Tuesday, August 27, 2019 at 7:32 AM
  • Author: Elizabeth Grafton-Cardwell
Tags: acp (86), citrus (338), hlb (71), psyllid (5)

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