Citrus growers need a united fight
The inevitable has happened. Asian citrus psyllids have been discovered in the heart of the state’s citrus belt, and the discovery is a scary development for anyone living in the Orange Belt.
Spraying will soon begin in the backyards of homes with citrus trees within 800 meters of the discovery of the pest that carries the dangerous citrus greening disease, which can wipe out entire groves in a few years and for which, right now, there is no cure.
The psyllid itself is no threat, and the fruit is not harmed at all by it. However, should the psyllid have the disease, then it is a huge threat.
The only way to keep the disease out is to stop the bug that carries the disease. Luckily, only in one tree in the state has the disease been found, and that was in Southern California. Only one psyllid trapped in the state has carried the disease.
With 26,000 square miles in Southern California under quarantine because of the psyllid, many were resolved it would show up here some day. Now that it has, the battle must begin to control the pest.
Growers have their work cut out for them. First, they need to ensure that the movement of green waste is reduced to zero. Second, they all need to treat their groves to kill the pest.
With more than 115,000 acres of citrus in Tulare County, there is far too much at stake to not be as aggressive as possible in this fight. Growers need to unite and work with each other. The state can only go so far. It is now up to the growers, shippers, packers, pickers, truckers and nurseries to all do their part. Maybe the pest cannot be stopped altogether, but its presence and its damage can certainly be reduced.
Our hope is that the Asian citrus psyllid is eradicated, but the reality is there will be more finds, if not now, then later. A united front by growers is one of the best policies to ensure it does not devastate the industry.