Officials are working to conduct surveys after an Asian citrus psyllid (ACP) carrying the bacteria which causes huanglongbing (HLB) was found in Riverside County. It marks the first time that an infected ACP was found in a commercial grove. While the discovery has prompted concern, Extension Specialist at UC Riverside, Monique Rivera said that the find is not all that surprising.
“We’ve had positive trees removed here in Riverside and we’re not that far from L.A. Eventually those two quarantine circles are likely to merge here in Southern California,” Rivera explained. “So while it seems like a really big deal, in terms of the news cycle, I would say that this is not a surprising development and I think we can expect to see more of it if there is more sampling done in commercial groves.”
Staff from the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) are carrying out the provisions of the ACP/HLB Action Plan to address the discovery. Determining the prevalence of infected ACP in commercial settings could use some more support to help get a better picture of overall risk. “I would say that the reason why maybe we haven’t seen this already is because CDFA is mostly responsible for sampling in backyards. So, they aren’t looking directly, or systematically at commercial groves,” Rivera noted.
Despite the discovery of an infected ACP, there has yet to be a detection of HLB in a commercial grove. CDFA has been active in removing a total of approximately 1,800 HLB infected trees from residential areas. With the disease inching closer to commercial groves, there are opportunities for more effort to be put into testing ACP found in commercial groves.
“It’s hard to ask CDFA to take responsibility for that completely because there are actually available resources for growers. They are just not maybe the best publicized,” said River. “Maybe a grower having his grove, or her grove sampled and then send off the samples to be tested could provide more information about what is going on.”
Growers can request PCR testing of ACP or plant samples from an accredited lab, such as the Citrus Pest Detection Program (CPDP) which is operated by the Central California Tristeza Eradication Agency. CDFA will also collect samples for analysis at no cost to the grower.
Listen to the interview below.