Historical Joint Citrus Conference Sees Record Attendance in Riverside

Brian German Industry

The joint citrus conference that took place at the Riverside Convention Center in Riverside from March 10 through 15 saw record attendance from industry members from across the globe.  The week-long event marked the first time the Conference of the International Organization of Citrus Virologists (IOCV) was combined with the International Research Conference on Huanglongbing (IRCHLB).  The event had close to 600 attendees including researchers, regulators, and growers from 23 different countries.

The IOCV conference featured concurrent sessions covering topics such as discoveries of citrus viruses, leprosis, viroids, tristeza, and citrus yellow vein clearing, as well as other citrus viruses and diagnostics.  “This was the first time that the IOCV returned for a conference to its birthplace,” said UC Riverside Professor and Chair of the joint conference Georgios Vidalakis.  “This organization was established in 1957 in Riverside in the first conference for citrus diseases, and it has not come back to Riverside [for] 60 years plus until today.”

The IRCHLB included joint morning sessions on an array of topics, followed by concurrent sessions in the afternoon covering nearly every aspect of Huanglongbing (HLB).  “In the three days of the conference, we address what’s the status of the disease throughout the world.  The second day we talked about what we have done so far in terms of research and addressing the problem,” said Vidalakis.  “The third day…we talk about ‘ok, what do we do for the future?’ and how we develop sustainable technologies.”

The impact of HLB on Florida citrus has been devastating, and California industry members have been working feverishly to keep the disease out of commercial production.  Events like the IRCHLB allow for greater collaboration and learning from other production areas to better understand and combat the spread of the disease.  “I think there’s real merit in the industry, nationally and internationally, getting together occasionally to talk about what’s going on in their home states and their home countries,” said Citrus Research and Development Foundation (CRDF) Chief Operating Officer Rick Dantzler.  “For the most part the disease behaves the same regardless of where it is, so we have a lot that we can learn from each other.”

The joint citrus conference was organized by the Citrus Research Board, UC Riverside, United States Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service as well as several citrus industry, state and federal government agencies, and university partners.

Listen to the interview below.

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Brian German

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Ag News Director, AgNet West