Calif. Citrus Growers Turn to Florida and Texas for Huanglongbing Help

Taylor Hillman Citrus, Industry News Release

Orange tree leaves with some symptoms of Huanglongbing, or citrus greening, for which there is no known cure or commercially viable treatment. Photo courtesy of USDA

Photo courtesy of USDA

Over 500 citrus growers and industry members are expected to attend the highly anticipated luncheon program titled “Huanglongbing:  Lessons for the Frontline.”  Attendees will hear from a panel of Florida and Texas citrus growers about how they’re responding to huanglongbing – a deadly, incurable plant disease that is taking over the citrus industries in their states.

The luncheon is hosted by California Citrus Mutual (CCM) with support from Citrus Pest & Disease Prevention Program.
Citrus growers are on edge following recent discoveries of huanglongbing in the Los Angeles Basin.  If the disease is allowed to take hold, it will be a death sentence for California citrus. Stopping the insect vector, the Asian citrus psyllid, is the best and only defense against huanglongbing.  But will it be enough to save the California citrus industry?

In Texas, growers are rapidly removing infected trees. In Florida, citrus growers have been battling against the disease for over a decade, in which time statewide production has plummeted by 70 percent and over 100,000 acres have been removed. As a result, the Florida economy has suffered the loss of $7.8 billion in revenue and 7,513 jobs since 2007.

What factors contributed to the rapid spread of the disease and how can growers in California protect themselves from the same fate? The panel, moderated by CCM President Joel Nelsen, will address these questions and more.

Media are invited to attend at no charge; however, reservations are required. Contact Alyssa Houtby, director of Public Affairs at 559.592.3790. Please be advised that media packets will be available at the California Citrus Mutual trade show booth in the Exhibit Hall.

At 1:30 p.m. immediately following the panel discussion, members of the media are invited to attend a press conference in San Joaquin Room A at the Visalia Convention Center to hear more from the panelists. Grower representatives from CCM and the Citrus Pest Disease Prevention Program, as well as agriculture officials from the California Department of Food and Agriculture, will also be available for comment.