Asian citrus psyllid found in Tulare County trap

November 20, 2012 12:07:00 AM PST
A quarantine may soon go into effect in parts of the South Valley following the discovery of an Asian Citrus Psyllid that can be deadly to citrus trees.

The Tulare County Ag Commissioner says the quarantine will likely go into effect next week and will extend to a 20 mile radius around the infected site in Strathmore. Citrus in the area will then have to go through extra cleaning steps before it can be processed outside of the quarantined area.

The Asian Citrus Psyllid may only be 2 millimeters long, but it has a widespread and potentially devastating implications on the Central Valley's citrus industry. The Tulare County Ag Commissioner's office got a call, from the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) office in Sacramento on Friday, saying that an Asian citrus psyllid was found on a trap in a Strathmore citrus grove.

"This particular psyllid was not tested for huanglongbing (HLB), the bacterial disease because it was about a month old," said Marilyn Kinoshita, Tulare County Ag Commissioner.

If the psyllid contains the bacterial disease and infects a citrus grove, it can kill the citrus trees. Since this is the second psyllid found in the area within two years, federal mandate requires a quarantine to go into effect.

The Ag commissioner is still working with the CDFA on the specific perimeters of the quarantine. Once it is in effect, all citrus that leaves the quarantined area must be rid of any stems or leaves, which is where the psyllid is usually found. The extra cleaning step could mean extra costs for packing, which could be passed down to the consumer.

Experts say the Asian citrus psyllid is one of the worst bugs that can destroy a citrus grove so growers are taking the threat seriously.

The psyllid is mostly found in Los Angeles, but growers say it was only a matter of time before it traveled up here to the Central Valley.


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