Batkin said a program called “unforbidden fruits” is aimed at responding to the quest for illegal budwood from a foreign source by “getting those varieties everybody wants, bringing them in and cleaning up through the clonal protection program.”

Batkin appeared at the Tulare program while taking a brief time out from a three-day international conference in Visalia that drew scientists from the United States, Mexico and Belize.

He talked of research on odor-based lures and repellents for the psyllid and said work is already under way on the release of a biocontrol for the psyllid, the Tamarixia radiata. The predator is being mass produced in Riverside and it will be released at a rate of 200 to 400 per week.

“We want 5,000 to 10,000 a week,” Batkin said, pointing out there is greater acceptance by urban residents of insect control when compared with spraying of backyard trees.

Another weapon in the fight against the disease is a machine that “sniffs out” diseases and pests, Batkin said. It’s about the size of a loaf of bread and can sample trees at a rate of two per minute. In addition to looking for HLB, it can detect other diseases including various strains of tristeza and pests that include red scale.

Batkin’s concluding words: “Plant, plant, plant. We have the technology to keep you viable.”

Also on the agenda for the spring citrus meeting were these topics:

• A look at earwigs and the degree to which they are a pest or beneficial.

The European earwig feeds on both plant and animal material and regulates pest populations in orchards such as aphids, scale insects and mites.

But they also feed on citrus leaves and fruit, said Beth Grafton-Cardwell, an Extension specialist and research entomologist with the University of California at Riverside.

When spraying for the earwig, she said, it’s important to know where it will be, that it is likely on the ground in the winter and moves into trees in early spring.

Earwigs can be pests of leaves in young trees in the spring when they build up in wraps, and they can be pests of mature trees if they feed on new fruit at petal fall. But they can be natural enemies of citrus pests such as California red scale and researchers did not find them damaging citrus flush or fruit in the summer.

Tree wraps can be a refuge for the earwig and should be removed or an insecticide should be sprayed into the wraps and/or on foliage, Grafton-Cardwell said. Effective sprays include Lorsban, Sevin, Baythroid and Seduce.