Asian Citrus Psyllid: California Battles Fruit Pest With Quarantine

Image: Asian Citrus Psyllid: California Battles Fruit Pest With Quarantine

Thursday, 03 Oct 2013 08:48 AM

By Alexandra Ward

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The state of California has ponied up $100,000 to continue battling the Asian citrus psyllid after the plant pest triggered quarantines of huge swatches of the San Joaquin Valley last month.

With the government shutdown in effect and the state's federal funding dried up, the California Citrus Pest and Disease Prevention Committee has stepped up to make sure the Asian citrus psyllid infestation doesn’t destroy the state's $2 billion citrus industry.

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"This is really just a stopgap measure, but we felt it was important to continue with the funding," Nick Hill, chairman of the grower-funded Prevention Committee, told The Fresno Bee. "This should keep us afloat for at least the next few weeks."

The money will reportedly go toward placing and monitoring insect traps, doing field surveys, and chemically treating residential trees that have been infected.

"The [Asian citrus psyllid] is of grave concern because it can carry the disease huanglongbing (HLB), also known as citrus greening," the California Department of Food and Agriculture said in a statement. "All citrus and closely related species are susceptible hosts for both the insect and the disease. There is no cure once a tree becomes infected."

The HLB bacteria do not pose any threat to animals or humans, but are absolutely deadly in plants. The disease essentially ruins a tree's fruit by causing it to become bitter, hard, and misshapen

Hill told The Bee that the Prevention Committee will ask to be reimbursed once the government shutdown is over, but he isn’t confident that the funds will be restored.

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