"A Tiny Pest, a Big Crossroads for California Citrus"

"Citrus greening disease hasn’t officially hit the state yet, but farmers may be required to cut back on the use of neonicotinoids, the main tool used to control the pest that carries it, because of its impact on pollinators."

"Jim Gorden stops his truck at the edge of one of his orange groves in Tulare County in the foothills of California’s Sierra Mountains. After 50 years as a citrus grower and pest control advisor in the San Joaquin Valley, the 81-year-old is “mostly” retired, but still vigilant about pests that may harm his fruit. A yellow sticky trap, about the size of a birthday card and speckled with insects, hangs from a branch. He leans in, eying each insect closely. None appear to be the Asian citrus psyllid, an invasive pest that poses the biggest threat to citrus growers in California.

Gorden is relieved. About crumb-sized and the color of dusty farmland, the psyllid carries a bacterial disease called huanglongbing (HLB) or “citrus greening disease,” which destroys fruit and kills trees. The disease has wreaked havoc on Florida’s citrus industry over the last decade and California citrus growers are on heightened alert.

Though citrus greening has not yet been discovered in commercial orchards in California, Gorden and other growers feel it’s only a matter of time. Last year, an unusually high number of psyllids were detected in nearly 120 locations around the San Joaquin Valley, home to about 80 percent of the state’s 267,000 acres of citrus. And this winter, a time when psyllids typically die off in the valley, three separate detections occurred."

Anne Marshall-Chalmers reports for Civil Eats June 2, 2021.

Source: Civil Eats, 06/02/2021