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Asian Citrus Psyllid

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January 2009 Update

USDA Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer recently announced the commitment of $5.8 million in funding to stop the spread of the Asian citrus psyllid in California. The pest, which was reported in the December Farm Bureau newsletter’s Pest Watch column to have expanded into Imperial County at 12 confirmed find sites, was recently found in Westmoreland, a small town at the north end of the Imperial Valley. This latest expansion of the pest has resulted in most of Imperial County being under quarantine, excluding only the Bard/Winterhaven area, according to CDFA’s Janet Taylor. In San Diego County, two new pest finds were in Crest and Palm City. The overall quarantine area has expanded to 5,131 square miles, but Highway 78, the northern boundary of the quarantine, is still holding.

The federal funds will be used for intensive surveillance for the psyllid and the citrus greening disease known as huanglongbing. It will also support quarantine regulations as well as outreach and education about the pest to California’s nursery owners, the citrus industry and the public.

December 2008 Update

The San Diego County quarantine has now expanded into Imperial County, where 12 find sites have been confirmed, including the Salton Sea area. The aphid-sized pest has also been found in El Cajon, which is 10 miles north of the original find sites near the Mexican border. So far, Highway 78, the northern boundary of the quarantine, is still holding.

In total, 3,764 square miles have been quarantined, and 49 sites are confirmed in the five San Diego County communities of Chula Vista, Dulzura, Tecate, Jamul, and El Cajon. CDFA is aggressively treating each find site, which extends a radius of 400 meters from the center of the site. Tijuana, which has extensive find sites, is cooperating well and conducting their own eradication efforts. CDFA has not found any aerial treatment product to be particularly effective for this pest. Attractants are also ineffective. CDFA has found the most beneficial treatment is spraying at close range into the tree to ensure direct contact with the psyllid. So far, Huanglongbing, or citrus greening, the bacteria the pest can carry which has no cure and kills the tree, has not been detected in any of the bug samples in the lab.

There are 58 retail nurseries within the quarantine area with more than 6,000 host plants on hold that they cannot sell. Twelve nurseries are treating their stock; some have chosen not to hold or treat plants; 2,600 host plants have been destroyed; and 919 nurseries, growers, packers and fruit sellers have signed compliance agreements.

For more information on the Aisian Citrus Psyllid please check out the following.