Citrus Restrictions Add Costs for Growers


The Californian citrus industry is still getting used to the implications of the recent Asian citrus psyllid discoveries in the state.

A statement from California Citrus Mutual said the circumstances of the Tulare valley psyllid discoveries differ from other findings in the state. Previously the insects were trapped in more southerly areas, but the Tulare findings are more isolated. Intense trapping since the discoveries has not revealed any additional findings.

For those reasons, the California Department of Food and Agriculture has restricted fruit movement only within a five-mile radius of the discoveries. Ordinarily, a psyllid find means a 20-mile quarantine area.

Provided no more psyllids turn up within the area, the boundaries will be in place for the next six months.

The plan, according to CCM President Joel Nelsen, is to eradicate the pests entirely, not merely to implement control. He says the smaller exclusion zones will help achieve this target.

Packed fruit is free to move anywhere, but bins of fruit straight from the harvest cannot move outside the restricted zones unless all leaves and stems are removed beforehand.

There are concerns that precleaning the fruit in such a way will increase costs to the point where growers are no longer able to generate a profit.

If their packinghouse is also within the zone, then there will not be an added cost. However, if it is not, their options are having an in-zone packer clean and re-bin the fruit before trucking to their own packinghouse, or manually or mechanically removing the debris in the field. Either way the cost is the grower's own responsibility.

Fruit from within the restricted areas needs to then be accompanied by an agreement of compliance, issued by the county, verifying that all cleaning requirements have been met.

Packinghouses inside the restricted areas will also have to double-bag and dispose of field trash from citrus inside the eradication zone at a designated landfill.