Speaker David Magaña, vice president and senior analyst at Rabobank, presented an economic outlook for the citrus industry. (Photo: Valley Ag Voice)

Citrus Showcase 2024 highlights the industry’s economic landscape and battle against invasive pests.

By Natalie Willis, Reporter, Valley Ag Voice

As the top citrus-producing state, California accounted for approximately 92% of fresh market production in the United States in 2022-2023. The California Citrus Mutual Citrus Showcase discussed the current economy of the industry and addressed key issues such as SGMA compliance and continuous battle against invasive pests. 

While high interest rates continue to affect the agriculture industry, the affordability index for growers in 2024 is in positive territory, according to David Magaña, vice president and senior analyst at Rabobank.

Despite inflation, Magaña explained that while input affordability is not back to pre-pandemic times, it is in a much better standing than in 2022. Along with increased affordability for fertilizers and other input costs, strong market demand has kept the citrus industry in good standing.

According to Magaña, the fresh produce consumer price index may be telling a new story for citrus. In the past, citrus was more affordable than other fruits and vegetables. Now, other fresh produce products are declining in price while citrus is increasing.

“This may be benefitting citrus,” Magaña said. “Now that everything in the fresh produce aisle seems to be declining in price, consumers have more purchasing power, more space in their wallets to buy citrus.”

Despite the various challenges plaguing the industry, namely invasive pests, farmers have remained optimistic, implementing innovative strategies to mitigate the issues and keep up with market demand.


The Asian citrus psyllid has not been a friend to the citrus industry. Recently, the California Department of Food and Agriculture expanded a quarantine for huanglongbing disease — a detrimental disease for citrus trees spread by ACP.

Areas of San Diego, Ventura, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, and San Bernadino counties are under quarantine.

Victoria Hornbaker, director of the citrus pest and disease prevention program through CDFA, explained that there are currently 7,514 trees detected with Asian psyllids in California, not including a new detection of HLB in Santa Paula. However, to date there has not been a positive HLB detection within a citrus grove.

There is not a one-size-fits-all approach to ACP management, Hornbaker explained.

“No single insecticide is going to control ACP — we have bio-control agents that we release, they are not going to singly control ACP,” Hornbaker said. “Growers need to be approaching this with an [integrated pest management] perspective. Treating with different chemicals at different times of the year.”

The CDFA is encouraging growers to sample 10 trees on each of the borders, monitoring for ACP nymphs and eggs, and implementing coordinated growth treatments. Area-wide management of ACP is the most effective solution wherein all growers in a given area should be treated within two weeks of the other.

Meanwhile, huanglongbing (HLB) disease detection triggers a 250-meter treatment protocol.

Along with ACP, citrus is also one of the main hosts for invasive fruit flies. Currently, Southern California has four active fruit fly quarantines for Oriental, Mediterranean, Queensland, and Tau fruit flies.

“It’s been a really bad year, 2023, probably the worst year that I’ve ever seen for fruit flies,” Hornbaker said.

Due to successful mitigation and treatment measures, three active fruit fly quarantines in Northern California are expected to lift within the next four months. Southern California, however, is the main point of concern for CDFA.

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