The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) have confirmed the detection of Huanglongbing (HLB) in Riverside County. The disease was detected in plant material taken from a grapefruit tree in a residential neighborhood in the city of Riverside near I-215.
According to the Citrus Pest and Disease Prevention Program, the infected tree has been removed and agriculture officials are moving swiftly on mandatory surveying in an 800-meter area. Mandatory treatments will soon follow. CDFA staff will visit all regulated entities in the quarantine area, including retail and production nurseries and packinghouses. Additionally, local, state and federal agriculture authorities are working together to determine potential implications to the University of California, Riverside, which will fall within the 5-mile quarantine area.
CCM staff have participated in several conference calls with CDFA, local and county government officials, and UCR to initiate a collaborative outreach campaign to inform Riverside residents of actions needed to stop HLB. On August 8th, CCM’s Alyssa Houtby will join representatives from CDFA, CPDPP, and UCR to provide an update to the Riverside City Council at the request of Council Member and local citrus grower Chris Mac Arthur. Riverside City staff are heavily engaged in this issue to encourage homeowner cooperation with CDFA treatments and surveys. Additionally, the City is assisting with outreach to hobby farmers within the nearby “Greenbelt” and will be partnering with CCM and the CPDPP to host a grower meeting in the coming weeks.
Abandoned groves are a significant challenge in Riverside County and adjacent San Bernardino County – an issue that CCM has been working with local growers, elected officials, and County Ag Commissioners to address. Riverside County Agricultural Commissioner/Sealer Ruben Arroyo (previously of Kern County) plans to take an aggressive stance on any abandoned groves in the area, and has the support of the Board of Supervisors to begin the process of abatement on offending properties.
The proximity of the find to UC Riverside is concerning, however, the University has assured CCM that they have processes, infrastructure, and permits in place to continue their essential research, protect the citrus variety collection, and provide pest and disease-free bud wood through the Citrus Clonal Protection Program.
In the coming weeks, CCM staff will be meeting with state and federal legislators to identify opportunities for additional collaborative outreach.
Click here to read the press release shared by Riverside County.