EXETER – In a battle with an invasive pest, California is forming a united front around its citrus producing counties to block the spread of a deadly disease that could destroy the industry.
On Jan. 1, the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) implemented an emergency regional quarantine to more effectively protect California citrus from the Huanglongbing (HLB), or citrus greening, a disease without a cure that kills healthy citrus trees. The quarantine was split into seven zones: 1) counties where HLB has not been detected and that are not next to citrus producing counties or the Mexican border; 2, 3 and 4) counties widely infested with ACP but not HLB; 5) counties infested with ACP, where HLB has not been found but is near the Mexican border; 6) counties where HLB has been detected; and 7) counties with partial infestations of ACP, no HLB, and are not next to citrus producing counties or Mexico. Tulare County is part of Zone 2, which also includes Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Merced, San Joaquin, and Stanislaus Counties.
The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) submitted the quarantine amendment as an emergency request to the Office of Administrative Law on Dec. 14, and it was approved on Dec. 26.
The decision restricts the movement of bulk citrus and nursery stock within the boundaries of the quarantine in areas where Asian citrus psyllid (ACP), the vector for HLB, have been found. Bulk citrus can only be moved if the growers, grove managers, haulers, and harvesters: sign a compliance agreement, provide a declaration that all fruit is free of ACP to the County Agriculture Commissioner’s office 72 hours prior to choosing a method to ensure citrus is not carrying the pest, ensure pallets or field bins are completely tarped or transported in an enclosed container, and only deliver fruit to an ACP-Program approved packing house or processor.
The declaration form must then be presented to the packing house or processor upon delivery and then to the County Agricultural Commissioner’s office at least 72 hours in advance of choosing the method that will ensure the shipment is free from ACP. An ACP-Free Declaration Form must also be included in each citrus shipment traveling to another quarantine zone or not.
CDFA will mail new exhibits to growers, transporters and packers with detailed instructions on exhibiting their compliance with quarantine rules and regulations. Forms and quarantine zone maps can found on CDFA’s website at www.cdfa.ca.gov.
The rules also restrict the movement of citrus nursery stock. The quarantine is split into three zones: 1) counties without ACP infestation; 2) counties that are partially infested with ACP; and 3) counties where HLB has been detected. Trees grown outdoors from zone 3 cannot be transported into a different quarantine zone. Trees can be moved between zones 2 and 3 if the nursery stock has been properly treated and tagged for ACP.
Production nurseries with ACP host material will be asked to visit one of CDFA’s ACP offices to sign a new ACP compliance agreement. Production nurseries should expect a mailing in the coming weeks from CDFA that will communicate when production nurseries should visit a local ACP office to sign the new compliance agreement.