California citrus leaders say it’s evident that the industry is still spreading psyllids. The current system for controlling the spread of Asian citrus psyllids during shipments isn’t killing all of the insects, and new rules are being discussed to help fix the problem.
The current rule for growers looking to move citrus from one area to another is to spray and move the produce. “Right now, the rule is they spray the orchard with a pesticide, pick the fruit, put it into bins and move it across the state,” University of California Citrus Integrated Pest Management Specialist Beth Grafton-Cardwell said.
However, according to Grafton-Cardwell, researchers know this system isn’t 100 percent efficient. “We know that pesticides are not killing every psyllid, so we are moving psyllids around the state,” she said. “We know this because we are finding them in juice plants, packinghouses and along transportation corridors.”
There may be some new citrus transportation requirements coming to the industry. Grafton-Cardwell said two options have been discussed heavily. “The next step will be to fully tarp all loads, so that even if we are just moving it across the street, we aren’t moving psyllids,” she said. “The next step after that would be something like washing or fumigation that cleans the fruit before it leaves an area.”
Grafton-Cardwell added the alternative to those measures is to just pick and pack local.