No HLB!

The USDA-Agricultural Research Service laboratory in Beltsville, Md., has confirmed the insect found in a sticky trap in San Luis, Ariz., in mid-October was an Asian citrus psyllid (ACP). The good news — the psyllid did not carry the citrus tree-killing Huanglongbing disease (HLB), or citrus greening.

The ACP is the main vector of HLB. The disease kills citrus trees within several years after infection. No cure is available.

The ACP find in Arizona just one-half mile north of the Arizona-Mexico border (Yuma County) follows an ACP find about one-half mile south of the border in neighboring San Luis, Sonora, Mexico, in September.

The Arizona Department of Agriculture has conducted ACP studies for several years without detection. Survey crews will inform Yuma County residents about the pest, and seek permission to survey properties in high-risk areas.

Additional sticky traps will be placed further from the find site. The traps are similar to fly paper without insecticides.

The ACP was found in California in fall 2008 in San Diego County and has since moved to several other counties including Imperial and Los Angeles counties. HLB has not been found in California.

ACP and HLB were first detected in the U.S. in Florida. The pest-disease combination has resulted in the removal of 200,000 acres of Florida citrus trees. Florida first detected the ACP in 1998 followed by HLB in 2005. The pest and disease are found in all 30 citrus-producing counties.

The pest and the disease are also present in Louisiana, Georgia, and South Carolina.

California, Texas, Mississippi, and Alabama have the ACP but not HLB.

Florida and California account for about 70 percent and 27 percent respectively of the citrus grown in the U.S. while Arizona and Texas produce the remaining 3 percent.

Lemons comprise the majority of Arizona’s citrus crop grown mostly in Yuma County. According to the Arizona Agricultural Statistics Service, Arizona growers harvested 17,900 acres of citrus during the 2006-2007 crop year valued at about $63 million.

California’s citrus industry is valued at about $1.88 billion.

For more information, visit www.saveourcitrus.org.

email: cblake@farmpress.com