The Citrus Research Board held their annual California Citrus Conference on Wednesday in Visalia. The entire citrus industry was invited to the event to hear updates on some of the latest research taking place. Many of the presentations were focused on combatting Asian citrus psyllid (ACP) and stopping the spread of Huanglongbing (HLB) disease.
California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross was the keynote speaker, addressing attendees on the collaborative effort to prevent ACP and HLB from causing the type of damage seen in Florida. “This is really a good time and a crossroads to do a strategic plan because we’ve got to be in this for the long haul,” Secretary Ross said.
Secretary Ross provided a message of optimism that California growers have the tenacity to succeed through periods of heightened disease concerns, as exhibited by the response to Pierce’s disease nearly 15 years ago. The citrus industry as a whole has been able to make significant progress by taking a proactive approach towards HLB.
There has been a tremendous investment of manpower examining the challenges with current detection techniques and the development of more effective methods. “Some of the early work we’re doing now is really around the early detection tools, and there’s a lot of interest around the dog detector teams,” said Secretary Ross.
Early investment and the raising of public awareness about the dangers of ACP and HLB have played an important role in keeping psyllid populations and disease detections at manageable levels. Along with continued development of early detection tools, Secretary Ross noted the priorities moving forward are “keeping the pest that can vector the disease away from our commercial production and to rapidly work on long-time cures.”
The audience also heard a comprehensive update on the types of disease pressure citrus growers are facing that was provided by the Chairman of the Citrus Pest and Disease Prevention Committee Nick Hill. Attendees were also presented with updates from a panel discussion on the research taking place in the biological control program.
There were approximately 600 attendees at the California Citrus Conference. The free event was designed to explain to growers what type of work is being done to protect the industry. Research posters were also put on display to allow participants to gather more in-depth knowledge on all the different areas that are being studied to ensure the future success of California citrus.
Listen to Ross’ comments