Spraying for psyllid delayed
Officials need drier weather
The expected spraying of backyard citrus trees in the vicinity where an Asian citrus psyllid was discovered in October was delayed Friday due to the weather.
Workers with the California Department of Food and Agriculture were scheduled to begin applications of a mild pesticide to any residential citrus trees within an 800 meter radius of where the psyllid was discovered in a trap. The psyllid was found in a glassy-winged sharpshooter trap in a commercial orchard northeast of Strathmore. A second psyllid was found in another trap in an orchard about a mile south of Terra Bella.
The discoveries of the pest, considered a significant threat to the area’s $750 million citrus industry, prompted the order to spray residential citrus trees and has state and federal officials moving to establish a citrus quarantine for a good part of Tulare County and most of the Orange Belt.
The psyllid is known to carry Huanglongbing (HLB), also known as citrus greening. That disease has devastated the citrus industry in much of Florida and parts of Texas. There is no cure for the deadly bacterial disease that can kill citrus trees in as little as five years and renders the fruit useless. The bug, however, is not a threat to the trees or the fruit if it does not carry the disease.
While the psyllid has been in California since 2008, only one tree and one psyllid have been discovered with the disease. However, discoveries of the psyllid have resulted in more than 26,000 square miles of the state under a citrus quarantine.
Officials had expected the announcement of the quarantine this week, but the announcement Tuesday of the additional discovery delayed that action.
Steve Lyle, a spokesperson for CDFA, said he expected an announcement early next week, possibly Monday or Tuesday. He said the quarantine would go into effect immediately with the announcement.
However, Tulare County Agricultural Commissioner Marilyn Kinoshita said she has yet to request the designation, saying she would not do so until she sees the map of the area to be quarantined.
“I don’t want to place a quarantine until I know who will be affected,” she said late Friday.
While the quarantine will be a major inconvenience for growers, packers and nurseries, it will not restrict the sale or shipment of packed fruit. The big concern is the movement of green waste — trees and stems.
When the first discovery was announced, state and federal officials reacted quickly to survey the area around the trap. Kinoshita said every tree was “closely inspected.” She said 80 acres in all have been walked and surveyed for the pest, with hundreds of traps placed. So far, no more psyllids have been discovered.
The same surveying has been done around the Terra Bella discovery, and no new psyllids have been found there.
Officials are also inspecting traps and trees outside of the main areas of the find, said Kinoshita.