Asian Citrus Psyllid has Tulare County growers on edge

TULARE, Calif.

Local and state agricultural officials have drafted a plan to quarantine a five-mile radius in Tulare County.

It may be small, but the Asian Citrus Psyllid, known as ACP, is causing widespread concern among Valley growers.

"That the thing could become established in the San Joaquin Valley," said Kevin Olsen. "The disease the ACP carries is a death sentence for the citrus trees so that would be devastating to the industry."

More than 100 growers gathered in Tulare to hear the plans from local and state Ag officials to battle the bug, which has shown up, most recently in traps south of Porterville. Right now, an intensive trapping effort underway to catch the pest. The Valley produces most of California's citrus with a majority of it grown in Tulare County.

Tulare County Ag Commissioner Marilyn Kinoshita said, "We've got 61 citrus packing sheds alone, and so the juice plants, our citrus nursery industry they're all affected by Asian Citrus Psyllid coming to roost here."

For those in the Ag industry, the psyllid seems to be a pest that won't let up. Just last year, the area was under restriction for the invasive species and now, Ag officials are looking to quarantine a five mile radius in roughly the same area.

Kinoshita said, "It's the same kind of process where trucks come in, they're inspected, they're supposed to be free of leaves and stems and we had a grower pre-harvest treatment option before, we don't know if we will have that."

That kind of effort could be expensive, but some growers say it'll take work to remove the psyllid from the Valley.

Olsen said, "It's better to spend some money to be proactive now than spending a lot of money later on and having and having a lot bigger issue to deal with."

A final plan will be put in place once it is approved by the California Office of Administrative Law, which could happen as early as next Tuesday. The quarantine would last two years.

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