The discovery of a second find of a single Asian citrus psyllid in a Tulare County citrus grove insect trap near Strathmore is expected to spur CDFA and USDA to establish a 20 mile quarantine on any citrus plant material movement soon. So says Tulare County Agricultural Commissioner Marilyn Kinoshita who expects a formal announcement by CDFA tomorrow, November 20 after she was briefed today.
Kinoshita says this latest pest find dates from October but several tests were needed on the insect by USDA labs resulting in the announcement this weekend, weeks later, of the find by Kinoshita’s office.
“Since it’s the second find this year it looks CDFA will recommend to USDA the 20 mile quarantine zone be established.”
Kinoshita says a map of the zone will be made available on the ag commissioner’s web site but its rough boundaries would go from Woodlake, south to Ducor and the City of Tulare on the west, a large swath of Tulare County’s big citrus growing region along the eastern foothills.
The dreaded pest can carry citrus greening disease that has devastated other citrus growing regions in the world including Florida in the US. The disease kills the trees after just a few years of being infected by the bacteria even as it stunts growth and production (see pic).
Kinsoshita says USDA will be testing trees near the find to see if they show any signs of the disease although there is a year long period before symptoms are seen. So far the tiny pest has been found in southern California as far north as Ventura County but not the dreaded disease. The first find of the insect in California came in 2008
The first find of a phyllid in Tulare County came in February 2012 and was found east of Lindsay. After the find, a dense quantity of pest traps were set up in citrus groves to determine if the insect was an isolated ”hitchhiker” from southern California or if the find signaled a potential infestation.
This time around CDFA seem to be worried about an infestation.
The citrus industry is the county’s number two crop after milk,valued at over $600 million annually with about 120,000 acres of citrus trees vulnerable to the voracious pest.
Kinsoshita says impact of the quarantine will hit growers who will now have to run all citrus fruit on rollers to remove any leaves or debris,nurseries who will face restrictions on plant movement unless the nursery trees are being grown under a screen and juice plants who will have to take extra precaution when they bring fruit in and out of the quarantine zone.
Kinoshita also says a citrus grower meeting to discuss the new quarantine zone will be held November 27 at a location to be announced.
Just what if any – impact on citrus exports to foreign countries will be remains to be seen depending on what those governments want to do.
One thing for certain.”Famers lives just got more complicated ”adds Kinoshita.