California Citrus Mutual Donates $25,000 Biological Control Research

Taylor Hillman Citrus

biological control

Adult Asian citrus psyllid, Diaphorina citri Kuwayama. Photograph by Douglas L. Caldwell, University of Florida.

California Citrus Mutual (CCM) is pleased to announce it has donated $25,000 to the crop sciences department at Cal Poly Pomona for research on Tamarixia radiate, a biological control agent for the Asian citrus psyllid.

The Asian citrus psyllid is an invasive insect known to be in California that can carry a deadly citrus disease called Huanglongbing, which was recently discovered on multiple properties in San Gabriel.

The donation is the result of partnership between CCM and  Bayer CropScience to raise awareness among residential citrus tree owners about the Asian citrus psyllid and Huanglongbing.  To create social buzz around the issue, Bayer and CCM launched the Citrus Matters social campaign encouraging consumers and citrus growers to share why “Citrus Matters” to them.   For every  share of the #citrusmatters hashtag, Bayer contributed  $1 to CCM to be used toward programs to mitigate the spread of the Asian citrus psyllid.

“California residents are a valuable partner in the fight against Huanglongbing,” says CCM President Joel Nelsen. “We’re grateful for the opportunity to work with Bayer CropScience to raise awareness about this very serious issue.”

Nearly 60% of California homeowners have a citrus tree in their backyard.  In an effort to control populations of the Asian citrus psyllid in residential and urban areas of the state, the industry has invested millions in a biological control program that utilizes a beneficial insect and natural predator of ACP, Tamarixia radiate.

Steve Olson, product manager for Bayer CropScience presented the donation to California Citrus Mutual Thursday night at the organization’s 38th Annual Meeting in Visalia, CA.  There, Nelsen announced that the funds will go toward student research at Cal Poly Pomona.   Cal Poly Pomona’s Dr. Valerie Mellano, Professor and Chair of the Plant Science Department and Dr. Anna Soper, Post-Doctoral Scholar accepted the donation on behalf of the University.

“We chose to donate the funds to Cal Poly Pomona because of the great work the students are doing there to help the industry fight back against the Asian citrus psyllid using beneficial insects,” continues Nelsen.  “The donation will not only benefit the citrus industry in terms of the research, it will help provide valuable work experience to students who plan on entering the citrus industry after graduation.”