A series of voluntary best practices have been developed to afford growers increased protection from Huanglongbing (HLB). The Citrus Pest and Disease Prevention Committee has endorsed a set of strategies and tactics to enhance efforts to keep the citrus industry safe from the disease.
“The purpose behind it is to give growers a list of things they can do to go above and beyond what the Department of Food and Ag is going to do if there’s an HLB find anywhere near their orchard,” said Beth Grafton-Cardwell, IPM Specialist and Research Entomologist with the Department of Entomology at UC Riverside. “We’ve been using the scientific information and integrating that into what growers normally do and just trying to see where we can help them to up their game, so they get additional protections against the psyllid and the disease.”
The recommendations are broken down into four scenarios that are based on a grower’s proximity to an HLB detection, including orchards outside of an HLB quarantine area, orchards within one to five miles of an HLB detection, orchards within a mile of an HLB detection but not known to be infected, and orchards with HLB. Growers are being encouraged to review and adopt as many methods as possible on their operation as a means of better protecting the citrus industry as a whole.
The voluntary best practices were presented at each of the locations for the Citrus Growers Educational Seminar Series presented by the Citrus Research Board and the University of California Cooperative Extension. Grafton-Cardwell, who participated in the task force responsible for developing the recommendations, noted that the attendees were surveyed about the best practices and had varying levels of concern based on their location. Those surveyed at each seminar did show a willingness to be proactive with efforts to stop the spread of HLB.
“Start thinking ahead. If you’re going to have a windbreak, it takes years to grow that windbreak. So, you might as well start now,” said Grafton-Cardwell. “You need to start practicing now so that when it comes down to ‘oh my goodness, HLB is near your orchard’ you’ve already got things instituted, you already know how to use the repellants and things like that.”