California citrus navigates invasive insects, decreased volumes.
Natalie Willis, Reporter, Valley Ag Voice
Kern County’s Agriculture and Measurement Standards Department proposed a cooperative agreement with the California Department of Food and Agriculture on Oct. 24 aimed at Asian Citrus Psyllid detection. The Board of Supervisors approved the agreement submitted by Agriculture Commissioner Glenn Fankauser.
The project will have a fiscal impact of $495,000, and the department will be reimbursed for labor, supplies, and materials necessary to detect Asian psyllids and Huanglongbing disease.
This agreement comes over two weeks after Ventura County ordered a citrus quarantine due to the detection of HLB in two residential citrus trees. Ventura is listed among the affected areas in Zone 3 of the CDFA’s regulation and quarantine boundaries, hosting a general infestation of ACP with HLB detections. Kern, Fresno, and Tulare counties are within Zone 2 as areas partially infested with ACP.
Last year, the CDFA declared an emergency program for Bakersfield, Taft, and Valley Acres in Kern County after the first confirmation of Asian citrus psyllids in the area. The state department claimed that emergency action was necessary to disrupt the insect’s life cycle, but there is a higher potential for sudden future detections in the county.
Along with detection efforts, the Agriculture and Measurement Standards Department proposed an agreement for quarantine response and regulatory enforcement in relation to ACP — the county would be reimbursed up to $80,000.
The agreements will be effective from October 2023 to September 2024.
California’s citrus assessment rate was presented by CDFA Secretary Karen Ross on Oct. 2, establishing rates for the 2023-24 marketing season from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30, 2024. The department utilized recommendations from the Citrus Research Board to set a rate of $.032 per 40-pound standard field box — the same rate as last season.
However, one of the narratives going into the 2023-24 citrus season is the impact of an increased thrip population, which caused considerable exterior scarring. The California Citrus Mutual marketing committee estimated that 30% of naval crops have thrip scarring, decreasing volume by 8% to 15% from last season. Mandarin and lemon crops are expected to drop by 5%.