Handling of citrus psyllid discoveries has been done well
So far, by most accounts, county, state and federal officials have done a good job responding to the discovery of Asian citrus psyllids in the Orange Belt.
The 5-mile quarantine areas announced this week are an excellent compromise to the initial proposal of 20-mile radius quarantines. Not only do the smaller areas affect fewer growers, packing houses and nurseries, they should help to contain the pest if it is present.
Also, the officials have responded correctly in light of no new discoveries of the pest, thus allowing the smaller zones. Many believe the smaller zones will be more effective in keeping the pest in a smaller area. The larger the areas, the more movement of unprotected fruit and foliage would be allowed.
The state responded to the discoveries quickly and effectively, not only putting out hundreds of traps around the two finds, but going tree to tree, surveying to ensure there were no more psyllids and more importantly no trees with the bacterial disease huanglongbing (HBL), also known as citrus greening. It is the disease that presents a threat because there is no cure and it can wipe out entire groves in a few years.
The disease, which has been spreading, has done billions of dollars of damage to the citrus industries in Florida and Texas. There has been only one discovery of an infected tree in California, but the psyllid that carries the disease has been found in many parts of Southern California. The only defense right now against the disease, is to keep the psyllid out.
We were also pleased the state took time to determine if a quarantine was needed and what form that quarantine would take. We feel the smaller quarantined area is the best approach for everyone.
This is a fight that our citrus industry will be in for quite some time. The psyllid, smaller than an aphid, is likely to show up again, but we are confident ag officials will respond just as quickly and act with the best interests of the citrus industry in mind.