What is in this article?:
- Commonly used traps apparently not capturing true number of Asian citrus psyllids in Tulare County.
- Growers are urged to employ voluntary best management practices to slow the spread of psyllids.
- Huanglongbing has not been discovered in Tulare County, but some growers fear that day may soon come.
Kevin Severns is urging growers and others involved in the citrus industry to employ strict best-management practices in order to slow the spread of the Asian citrus psyllid in Central California.
Severns' many roles
Severns wears several hats. He is a citrus grower, general manager of the Orange Cove-Sanger Citrus Association, secretary/treasurer of the California Citrus Pest and Disease Prevention Committee, vice chairman of the California Citrus Mutual and he sits on the Sunkist board of directors. The packing operation Severns manages processes and ships about 1.7 million cartons of navel oranges, 700,000 cartons of Valencia oranges, 50,000-70,000 cartons of Minneola tangelos and about 50,000 cartons of Cara Cara oranges each year.
Severns’ matter-of-fact tone of voice was urgent, direct and passionate.
He ticked off a list of practical steps and best management practices growers, pickers, packers and others can take in slowing the ACP spread in California.
“We need to be vigilant,” he said.
Practically speaking, Severns is promoting the idea of cleaning every piece of equipment that leaves a citrus grove before leaving that grove. While not talking about completely washing everything, he is talking about making sure things like pickups, four-wheelers, field restrooms, bins, trailers, ladders, forklifts, trimming equipment and the bags used by farmworkers when picking fruit need to be cleaned of leaf and stem materials and inspected for psyllids.
“I’m not just talking about the quarantine areas, but everywhere,” Severns said.
He also recommends that harvest crew bosses collect all bags and other materials used by picking crews and be responsible for ensuring the bags are cleaned of all vegetative materials and bugs prior to moving to the next grove.
As a packer, Severns has seen citrus bins arrive at the packing shed with leaves, stems and other tree materials in them.
“That does not need to be hauled into the packing house with that load,” he said.
Severns is talking about going beyond regulatory requirements aimed at slowing the spread of the ACP. Those requirements include spraying loads prior to leaving the field and tarping the trucks hauling the loaded bins to the packing house.
“We need to broaden our scope to include anyone and everyone who enters a citrus grove,” Severns said.
Practical steps include watching for tree materials that can become snagged on pickups and equipment in the field. Those materials need to be removed in the field and not transported out of the grove. Ladder trailers, field restrooms (inside and out), and the various other pieces of equipment must be inspected and cleaned of all vegetative materials before leaving the orchard, he said.
That includes educating harvest crews about the need to keep their car windows closed and even check their clothing for psyllids prior to leaving the grove.