The University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) has launched the California Citrus Network as a means to address industry concerns through a collaborative approach. The new website will be another resource available to those involved with citrus production who may have questions or concerns about their operation.
“If they see something out in the field that’s unusual, they can snap some pictures with their smartphone or their tablet and they can go onto the forum site,” said UCCE Area Citrus Advisor for Tulare, Fresno, and Madera Counties Greg Douhan. “Let’s say you think something is some sort of disease issue, you can go in there and look on that and see if anybody else has been seeing the same thing. Or you can post a question and say, ‘hey I’m finding this unusual situation out in my field, is anybody else seeing this?’ so it’s just a way to communicate.”
The California Citrus Network has specific areas pertaining to individual issues such as pests, diseases, irrigation, weeds, fertility, and harvest and post-harvesting issues. The forum also allows users to break down issues by citrus growing regions that the website has designated as the San Joaquin Valley, Desert, Coastal, Southern Interior, and Sacramento Valley. There are additional discussion areas covering general topics, as well as issues related to ACP and HLB.
The success of the informational exchange network relies on participation. Communicating with other members of the citrus industry about important issues in real-time can be a significantly beneficial tool. Participation and interaction on the website are being encouraged, as it will help cultivate more communication and improve the overall networking value and experience.
“It’s in the testing phases and so the more people who use it the more we can figure out if there’s any bugs. And the idea is that if it becomes successful and people are using it, maybe I’ll try to gather some money somewhere, maybe through a grant, and actually develop a slicker version,” Douhan noted.