California citrus growers wrestling with HLB

Huanglongbing (HLB) is wreaking havoc on California’s citrus industry, leading Bayer to partner with California Citrus Mutual (CCM) to attack the problem head-on through initiatives that include the Citrus Matters campaign, Abandoned Citrus Tree removal program and a recent series of California growers meetings.

So far, 28 California citrus trees are confirmed to have HLB, but growers, homeowners and industry leaders have helped the disease from spreading.

“While every growing region has its unique set of challenges and legitimate concerns, the industry is united that stopping Asian citrus psyllid and HLB is the priority and certain mitigation activities must be taken to achieve the objective,” Alyssa Houtby, director of public affairs for CCM, said.

Grower meetings in September brought together California growers, growers from Florida and representatives from disease control and citrus organizations. The meetings concluded that it is important to address Asian citrus psyllid (ACP) presence as a sign that HLB is also present. Floridian growers were able to continue farming after the HLB outbreak, but it came at a cost they do not want to see California growers experience.

“There’s much we can learn from what our fellow growers in Florida have gone through in the last decade,” Steve Olson, Bayer product manager, said. “If we continue to work together on prevention, California citrus will be in a much better position to survive the threat of HLB.”

The Citrus Matters website was formed as an informational resource for growers and as a place the citrus community can share information.

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