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Citrus pest spraying to begin Friday
Treatments limited to where psyllid was found
Residents of a small area near Strathmore will soon have citrus trees in their yards sprayed with a pesticide to kill any possible Asian citrus psyllids.
The area where treatments will be made is limited to around where a psyllid was discovered in October and only to citrus trees. Farmers will handle their own spraying.
“We work with all the homeowners. We anticipate a lot of cooperation,” said David Pegos with the California Department of Food and Agriculture during a meeting Tuesday night for residents.
Pegos said approximately 55 private residences have been identified in the areas to be treated and only those with citrus will be impacted, but only a few residents showed up.
They had been notified by CDFA of the meeting.
Notices were to be delivered to the homes today with spraying to begin Friday. Pegos said it should only take a few days to complete the treatments, weather permitting.
There are two treatment areas east of Strathmore, each about a square mile. One area is around where the psyllid was discovered, the second just northeast of the first, in an area where a psyllid may have been found, but not confirmed, said a CDFA official at the meeting.
The first area is bordered by Avenues 200 and 208 and Roads 236 and 246. The second is bordered by Avenues 208 and 216 and Roads 246 and 254. Each area is roughly 800 meters out in all directions from the find.
Plans are being made to treat a similar area south of Terra Bella where another psyllid was discovered in a CDFA trap. That find was announced Tuesday. A meeting is planned for affected residents there.
Two mild pesticides will be sprayed on citrus trees and on the ground under them. Pegos said they are “everyday” pesticides that can be found in any store. He said the psyllid is not difficult to kill.
The psyllid, which has been spreading around Southern California since 2008, can be a carrier of Huanglongbing (HLB), also known as citrus greening disease. While not harmful to human health, HLB is fatal for citrus trees and there is no cure. Once a tree is infected, it will produce bitter, hard, inedible fruit and eventually die.
Alfredo Sanchez with CDFA said only one application of the pesticide is needed.
“We’re planning to be done in less than a week,” he said.
The treatments that will be done by CDFA employees and they will have badges to show homeowners and will wear CDFA patches on their shirts.
“It is simple treatment. What we’re putting out there is very, very minimal,” he added.
Leland Langford, a grower in the affected area, said he is concerned with the discovery of the psyllid.
“We can lose everything if that darn disease gets here. You have to get going with something,” he said of the treatments.
Pegos said they expect the spraying to go easily because they are in a rural, agricultural area. They haven’t had much opposition to spraying in Southern California.
“Folks understand the threat of an invasive species here. It’s not just growers, we’re also protecting backyard trees,” he said.
For more information and to find out what to look for, visit www.CaliforniaCitrusThreat.org. If you think you have found a psyllid or if your tree has symptoms of HLB, act fast. Call the California Department of Food and Agriculture hotline at (800) 491-1899.