Citrus Pest & Disease Prevention Program
2017–2018 Annual Report
Continuing to Fight for Our Industry’s Longevity Requires Teamwork
For more than two centuries, citrus has grown strong in California’s yards and groves – serving as a source of nourishment, income and tradition for many different individuals – but all of this is at risk due to Huanglongbing’s (HLB) growing presence in California.
In 2018 HLB was found in more than 600 residential citrus trees in Southern California, and despite the program’s thorough surveying efforts, HLB has not been found in a commercial grove, but we must continue to hold strong. It has never been more important for all of us – including the Citrus Pest & Disease Prevention Program (CPDPP), regulatory authorities, the citrus industry, the scientific community and others – to work together to prevent the spread of the disease and save California’s citrus industry.
While much has changed since the citrus industry came together ten years ago to support the creation of the CPDPP, one constant remains: the program’s dedication to fight HLB. This year, the Citrus Pest & Disease Prevention Committee (CPDPC) created a strategic plan for combatting HLB now and in the future. The plan identified five prioritized strategies to achieve CPDPP’s goals of keeping HLB out of commercial groves, limiting Asian citrus psyllid (ACP) movement in the state and fine-tuning the program. In addition, the program agreed to align its annual budget in support of the strategies, which can be viewed in this report.
With this plan comes additional responsibilities for all individuals involved. The CPDPC understands HLB isn’t the only issue posing a threat to your business and our industry – but it’s one we can’t ignore. This report highlights the many activities the program and our partners are doing across the state to protect commercial groves from HLB, but we are only as strong as our weakest link.
Looking forward, much is at stake for California citrus growers, packers and workers as the industry faces its biggest threat yet in HLB. I encourage you to connect with the program, your local pest control district or task force, and follow best practices for managing the ACP and HLB. If we sit idle, hoping others will take action for our benefit, we are welcoming this devastating disease into our groves.
But, by working together, we can protect California’s commercial citrus industry from devastation – sustaining our livelihood and the legacy of California citrus.
Jim Gorden, Citrus Pest & Disease Prevention Committee Chair
$3.3 BILLION IN PRODUCTION
$7.1 BILLION ECONOMIC IMPACT
According to a report by the University of California, Riverside about 2016-2017
Continued Partnership Provides Best Path to Protecting California Citrus
Citrus trees are a critical piece of the state’s agricultural landscape – from backyard trees beloved by homeowners to the rolling acres of beautiful and fragrant commercial citrus trees – and the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) is committed to working with the citrus industry to fight Huanglongbing (HLB).
The department is continuing to explore and employ new methods that keep the program on track to attain its goals: preventing HLB’s spread to commercial groves, limiting Asian citrus psyllid (ACP) movement around the state and continuing to fine tune the program.
In the past year, CDFA has used the best available science to create a more efficient laboratory and thorough HLB sampling program. CDFA’s lab has implemented the use of a new primer when testing plant samples for the bacteria that improves our ability to detect HLB quickly. This primer is much more selective and sensitive to the presence of the bacteria that causes HLB, and it has provided us with more concrete positive and negative results – reducing the amount of inconclusive results by 60 percent.
In the field, agriculture crews are now conducting quadrant sampling of host trees that are on the same property or on adjacent properties to those with confirmed HLB detections. Field crews divide the tree into four sections and take a sample from each of those four sections to be separately tested. This helps us find HLB more quickly than taking one sample from each tree, and this sampling change has directly contributed to the department’s identification and removal of more than 600 HLB-positive citrus trees in 2018.
While we have made strides toward a more efficient program, there is still more to be done. Looking forward, the department will continue to partner with the citrus industry and the scientific community to fight HLB on all fronts.
Victoria Hornbaker, Interim Citrus Program Director, California Department of Food and Agriculture
By The Numbers
During FY 17-18, the Citrus Pest & Disease Prevention Program used its funds to support its strategic priorities and fight HLB on multiple fronts.
On The Ground
In the Lab
citrus plant samples
tested for HLB
ACP samples tested for
Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus
Strategic Priority 4
Improve Data Technology,
Analysis and Sharing:
Strategic Priority 5
Outreach and Collaboration:
Total funds: $39,440,000
Assessment on cartons of citrus: $15,000,000
US Dept. of Agriculture, Citrus Health Response Program: $14,440,000
California’s General Fund: $10,000,000
A DEEPER LOOK AT THE PROGRAM
THE CITRUS PEST & DISEASE PREVENTION PROGRAM’S SUBCOMMITTEES KEEP THE PROGRAM IN ALIGNMENT WITH ITS STRATEGIC PLAN AND HELP THE PROGRAM MOVE MORE NIMBLY AS ISSUES ARISE. THE FOLLOWING HIGHLIGHTS THE ACTIVITIES THAT POSITIVELY IMPACTED THE PROGRAM, CITRUS TREE OWNERS AND CALIFORNIA’S CITRUS INDUSTRY.
Bob Felts Jr., subcommittee chair and owner of Felts Farm in Visalia
As the subcommittee that oversees the program’s multi-million-dollar annual budget, the finance subcommittee developed a balanced budget for FY 18–19 that closely adheres to the priorities outlined in the program’s strategic plan. Additionally, the subcommittee has worked closely with CDFA on exploring ways to secure dedicated program resources designated solely to help protect California’s citrus industry from HLB. More details on budgets and expenditures overseen by the finance subcommittee can be found below.
Keith Watkins, subcommittee chair and vice president of Bee Sweet Citrus
To maximize resources and efficiencies, the operations subcommittee – comprised of citrus growers and packers – changed the protocol of CDFA’s field crews to focus on sampling plant material for HLB in areas that have been infested with the Asian citrus psyllid for many years, rather than trapping for the psyllid in those already infested areas.
This subcommittee continues to look at new ways – that are backed by science – to improve the program’s operations and ensure resources are used wisely. Additionally, the operations subcommittee spearheaded efforts, alongside grower liaisons and California Citrus Mutual, to identify neglected or abandoned groves and develop a course of action with county governments to get those groves treated or removed.
Mark McBroom, subcommittee chair and owner of Bloom to Box Crop Care in Imperial County
The outreach subcommittee continued to evolve its strategy to inform California homeowners, local governments and elected officials, and members of the citrus industry – from the picker to the hauler and everyone in between – about best practices to prevent the spread of HLB. Media coverage, advertising and informational materials about the pest and disease garnered an estimated 110 million impressions from California residents.
Partnerships with California Citrus Mutual, Citrus Research Board, California Association of Pest Control Advisers, the University of California, County Agricultural Commissioners and other groups critical in the fight of HLB helped the program reach different players in the citrus industry. Moving forward, the outreach team is committed to continuously evaluating its strategy and moving quickly to address issues as they arise.
Science and Technology
Etienne Rabe, subcommittee chair and vice president of horticulture for Wonderful Citrus
The science and technology subcommittee continued to use the best available science to make program recommendations that help prevent the spread of HLB to commercial groves and limit psyllid movement. For example, as a result of research from Dr. Beth Grafton-Cardwell of the University of California, the subcommittee established the two optimum treatment times and types for residential citrus trees in the buffer around commercial citrus groves participating in the coordinated treatments and treatments along the U.S.-Mexico border. Additionally, the group is working with researchers to explore alternate mitigation methods, including new post-harvest treatment options for the movement of bulk citrus. As the program advances, the science and technology subcommittee will continue to consult the best and brightest researchers and scientists to help the program make solid science-based decisions.
All committee and subcommittee meetings are open to the public and can be attended in person, via phone or webinar. Visit cdfa.ca.gov/citruscommittee for a calendar of upcoming meetings.