Hundreds of Growers Gather At Citrus Showcase in Visalia

FRESNO, Calif. They came not only to learn more about issues affecting their industry but also to sample new varieties that may someday net them big profits. Before growers even think about planting new trees, the fruit must first pass the taste test. Growers came to try many different varieties to see what may be the next big thing.

20-year-old Alberto Carranza, a grower from Porterville, said it's important to taste it before you grow it. Carranza explained, "Every time they come out with different ones, tasting better and everything. They have less seeds, a lot of good stuff."

The display samples of traditional to red-fleshed blood oranges helped growers make important business decisions.

Ted Batkin of the Citrus Research Board said, "This is always an interesting conversation we have with the growers because they have their perception of what consumers like and we couple that up with doing testings like this at consumer events."

The latest equipment and products were on display at the Citrus Showcase. But the event also presented an opportunity for growers to learn more about efforts to keep a devastating greening disease called huanglongbing out of valley orchards.

The disease is getting dangerously close to the U.S. Joel Nelsen of California Citrus Mutual said, "We're seeing more of the disease in Mexico. Finds of the disease have been found in Mexico. The closest to us is Puerto Vallarta so travelers have to be wary of it."

The pest which spreads the disease has been found in California but the disease has yet to cross the border. Stopping this pest is an industry priority. Greening disease has devastated the citrus crop in both Florida and Brazil.

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