CCM recently hosted CalEPA Deputy Secretary for Agriculture/DPR Acting Director Val Dolcini and CDFA Undersecretary Jenny Lester-Moffitt in Riverside for a tour as part of our ongoing efforts to educate members of the Administration about Huanglongbing and the industry’s efforts to prevent the disease from taking hold. Part and parcel to the discussion was the importance of psyllid control both in commercial orchards and residential areas and the need for effective pesticides as part of the overall Integrated Pest Management Program.
The tour included industry’s new biosecurity level 3 (BSL3) research lab, the CDFA biological rearing facility at Mt. Rubidoux, a residential property where HLB had been previously detected, and a grove tour at Gless Ranch.
While at the Citrus Research Foundation BSL3 lab, CCM’s Casey Creamer, UC ANR’s Dr. Beth Grafton-Cardwell, and CDFA’s Victoria Hornbaker provided a comprehensive overview of the challenges facing the industry relative to Huanglongbing and the steps the industry, research community, and government are taking to prevent the disease from devastating the California citrus industry.
CCM’s Joel Nelsen and La’Kneitah Smith, containment director for the BSL3 lab, provided a tour of the lab, emphasizing that it is a first-of-its-kind, multi-million dollar facility that is owned and overseen by the industry for the sole purpose of identifying a cure for HLB.
While at Mt. Rubidoux, Dr. David Morgan explained how the Citrus Pest and Disease Prevention Program is utilizing biological control agents to control psyllid populations in dense urban areas. He emphasized that while Tamarixia radiata is an encouraging and cost-effective tool in specific urban settings, it is not a silver bullet, nor should be an exclusive means of controlling or eradicating ACP.
At the residential property, CDFA staff demonstrated the delimitation process including leaf and psyllid sampling, trap inspection, and the drench and foliar treatment application using water.
The tour concluded with lunch at the State Citrus Historical Park and a tour of the surrounding acreage that is farmed by the Gless Family. John Sr., John S., and John C. Gless discussed the challenges of controlling ACP in Riverside County given the close Ag-urban interface and a prolific amount of untreated abandoned citrus acres surrounding commercial production.
CCM staff members Casey Creamer, Alyssa Houtby, Joel Nelsen, and Lori Apodaca organized the tour. The tour was also attended by Monique Rivera of UC Riverside and Ruben Arroyo, Riverside County Ag Commissioner, and Victoria Hornbaker, Interim Director of the Citrus Pest and Disease Prevention Program.