Spencer’s concern is whether the new APHIS-required packing procedures will impact fruit quality during the overseas transit.

“When a container of fruit arrives in Japan or Australia they open it up and go through a representative number of cartons,” Spencer explained. Citrus with mold, skin breakdown, or tip injury on lemons can lower the price.

“If those arrivals suffer it could cost me a lot. Reduced quality could eventually cost me my markets and even my business.”

Citrus nurserymen Alan, Mark, and Stacey Loghry operate Sunset Nursery in Yuma. They are reeling from the financial pinch caused by the regulations of the ADA’s ACP quarantine enacted in part of Yuma County in November 2009. The ACP was found in the county one month earlier.

In neighboring California, the ACP was first trapped in San Diego County in Fall 2008. The insect was later found in Imperial, Los Angeles, and Orange counties. Quarantines were enacted in the counties. HLB has not been found in California or Arizona.

The dual-state ACP quarantines currently limit the Loghry’s sales to within the quarantine areas in Yuma and southern California. Prior to the ACP quarantine, Sunset’s citrus tree sales in Phoenix and Tucson comprised the majority of the company’s sales. The Loghrys can no longer ship nursery stock to those areas.

The APHIS SOS quarantine will prohibit Sunset Nursery sales in California since the state does not have the disease.

“We’re frustrated,” the Loghrys said. “We can’t ship in Arizona (outside of the Yuma quarantine) due to ACP. With the SOS quarantine we can no longer sell in California. Here we sit.”

Texas likely had SOS years before detection since the disease is so similar to other citrus maladies. Arizona is likely in the same boat; the fungus has probably for a long time.

For Yuma citrus grower Jerry Driedger, SOS is another problem that growers have to deal with.

“There’s not much we can do in the field,” said Driedger, general manager of Marlin Ranching. “SOS is extremely difficult to find since it looks like thrips scars and other damage on fruit. This will likely be a problem impacting the packinghouse, marketing, and exports, but not a significant impact on the growing side.”

Caravetta and Levitt discussed limited state and federal funds available to deal with SOS in Arizona. Caravetta says ADA will allocate more dollars to the ACP-HLB efforts than SOS since ACP-HLB is the larger threat to the state’s citrus industry.

“It’s a triage – it’s simply an assignment of priorities,” Caravetta said. “The greatest threat to the Arizona citrus industry is citrus greening.”

cblake@farmpress.com