Continued exports of California citrus to South Korea are in jeopardy due to the Fuller rose beetle (FRB). Growers are urged to immediately develop aggressive management protocols ahead of trade talks between South Korea and the U.S..

At the heart of the issue is South Korea’s desire to keep the pest out of its country. A bilateral agreement between the U.S. and South Korea will likely require specific management protocols by California producers, including skirt pruning, weed control, and chemical treatments.

Korea is California’s largest orange export market, so any disruptions caused by FRB could have serious consequences. South Korea’s new policy on methyl bromide fumigation makes the issue that more critical for growers to eradicate the pest from groves, according to James Cranney, Jr., president of the California Citrus Quality Council.

According to the University of California’s Integrated Pest Management website, the beetle does not generally cause economic damage to citrus, but the presence of viable eggs on fruit exported to countries like South Korea present a quarantine concern as South Korea does not have the pest and wants to keep it that way.

While methyl bromide fumigation procedures will kill the pest, Cranney says South Korea wants to move away from the fumigant this season. As a result, California must demonstrate full control of the Fuller rose beetle prior to this year’s harvest.

Other control measures to remove adult populations and their resulting egg masses from groves are also under investigation.