Citrus harvest underway amid Asian Citrus Psyllid worries

EXETER, Calif.

Crates of navel oranges just picked from Central Valley orchards are being loaded at the Exeter-Ivanhoe Citrus Packing Shed. Growers are excited about this year's crop. They say cool weather has done wonders for the color, and then there's the taste.

Terry Orr said, "We're happy that it's got good sugar content. I've been in this deal for 40 years and it's better than I've seen in my career."

Still, Tulare County citrus growers are grappling with two separate quarantines. One quarantine stretching from Exeter to Ducor, the other east of Dinuba.

This after several Asian Citrus Psyllids were found in September and earlier this month. The bug, if infected with the disease huanglongbing, can kill citrus trees. So far the HLB disease hasn't been found but just finding the bug alone has put tougher restrictions for growers by the California department of food and agriculture.

Tulare County Ag Commissioner Marilyn Kinoshita said, "We've got grower treatments that are taking place, a majority if not all of the urban treatments have taken place."

Kinoshita says most growers are spraying their crops and removing stems and leaves before they leave a quarantine area. Stems and leaves can carry the bug. The extra steps cost money.

"You've got the added expense of running fruit over some sort of processing line to get rid of stem and leaf trash or you've got a spray treatment that you need to pay for," said Kinoshita.

Orr added, "It depends on what location we're in, there has to be spraying done and we have to give notice we're going to do that and such it's nothing that we can't deal with. We've been lucky so far."

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