PESTS

Pest Exclusion Issues

Farmers in San Diego County are constantly at risk from infestations of exotic pests and diseases. As an urban county with an international border, the traveling public and criminal smuggling of agricultural products create opportunities for the transport of pests. Recent years have seen a number of local quarantines, and future quarantines can be expected. In addition to restrictions on shipping in the event of a quarantine, many of the pests and diseases that farmers battle on a daily basis are non-native introductions carried by human activity. The risk of these new pests and diseases underscore the need for vigilant and constant exclusion efforts along our borders, at the airport, and in incoming shipments of goods. Farm Bureau has made it a key task to convince state and federal legislators that pest exclusion, detection, and eradication must be high priorities.

To keep serial quarantines and new introductions from becoming a way of life and causing immeasurable damage to farmers, Farm Bureau advocates two essential philosophies.

  • There must be a mindset at our state and international border crossings that agricultural products being carried into our state, both innocently and criminally, should share equal billing with searches for drugs, weapons, and contraband.
  • Detection efforts in our agricultural regions must be increased. Because our county is a likely point of invasion, traps must be set in sufficient numbers to detect the presence of pests before breeding populations can become established.

Growers can help themselves by establishing a few simple bio-security measures:

  • Know the source of all agricultural products that come onto your farm
  • Be aware of where visitors and equipment have been before they come onto your farm or ranch
  • Educate employees on the potential impacts if they inadvertently are the carriers of animal diseases or if their lunch sacks contain fruit from a source that could harbor exotic pests
  • Demand that shippers of plants or animals to your farm strictly adhere to phytosanitary regulations

Diaprepes Root Weevil

April 2009 Update

The 400-meter range of treatment applied to local infested areas has proven to be effective at containing the spread of ACP, as there have been few finds in treated areas. AWM is working through some labeling protocol issues regarding pesticide application for residential areas that are expected to be resolved soon. ACP sites in Tijuana, Mexicali and Tecate are being treated by international spray crews who are working cooperatively with USDA. A consortium of ag and citrus-industry officials from California, Florida, Arizona, Texas and Louisiana recently descended on Washington, D.C. to pursue funding to eradicate ACP as an international and regional issue. The move was supported by the California Agricultural Commissioners and Sealers Association (CACASA), which has reported that the regional approach taken to detect and treat all known ACP infested sites within a week has slowed considerably the spread and virtually eliminated ACP in some areas, adding that no other area in the world has had this much success against ACP/HLB. Plants and insects have been tested on both sides of the border for the presence of the HLB bacteria, and none has been found.

January 2009 Update

California’s budget crisis has led Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to eliminate all funding for the containment and eradication of the Diaprepes root weevil population in San Diego County. Despite a concerted effort by Farm Bureau and other organizations to keep the funding intact, the overwhelming state deficit prevailed. The Caribbean native feeds on more than 270 host species and can decimate citrus and avocado groves and cause nursery producers in a quarantine area to institute costly pesticide regimes in order to ship plants.

Left to move about by natural progression and the public movement of green waste and plants, the pest should be expected to populate larger reaches of the county beyond the 42 sites where it has been detected.

With the state taking this disappointing position, industry organizations are asking that, at a minimum, the state include sufficient funding in the 2009-2010 budget to continue monitoring the infestation and provide for regulatory oversight that will allow groves and nurseries to treat and ship unimpeded.

Diaprepes weevil control in the quarantine zone of San Diego County

Diaprepes Root Weevil

New documents available on Diaprepes treatments

The state has released a Voluntary Treatment Protocol that will allow nursery producers to continue shipping without interruption should their nursery site be caught in a Diaprepes root weevil quarantine area.

The Department of Pesticide Regulation has approved a Section 24(c) Special Local Needs to allow Talstar Select application by chemigation.

Asian Citrus Psyllid

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.

  • CDFA Asian Citrus Psyllid Info
  • Citrus Research Board meeting on ACP for Growers, Harvesters, Haulers and Packing Houses – October 3, 2008
  • Citrus Research Board ACP information site
  • Finding of Emergency
  • Quarantine Description and host list
  • New Quarantine Map
  • CDFA News Release 9.11.08
  • CDFA Detection Advisory
  • CDFA Pest Exclusion Advisory
  • CDFA News Release Treatment Begins 9.16.08
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