UCR Hosted the California Asian Citrus Psyllid and Huanglongbing Research and Extension Summit

The bacterial plant disease is fatal to citrus

Beth Grafton-Caldwell, a research entomologist at UCR, speaks during the Oct. 4-5 California Asian Citrus Psyllid and Huanglongbing Research and Extension Summit. sean nealon

On Oct. 4 and 5, UC Riverside hosted the second California Asian Citrus Psyllid and Huanglongbing Research and Extension Summit. The summit focused on a disease that is decimating the citrus industry.

Researchers provided updates and identified gaps that need to be addressed related to Huanglongbing, also known as citrus greening disease, a bacterial plant disease fatal to citrus trees. The disease has devastated citrus trees in Asia, South America, and Florida. More recently, it has been found in Texas and California.

There were more than 20 speakers, including eight from UC Riverside: Beth Grafton-Caldwell, Matt Daugherty, Kelsey Schall, Wenbo Ma, Hailing Jin, James Ng, Chandrika Ramadugu, and Georgios Vidalakis.

Here are some facts gleaned from the speakers:

  • Among the signs that a citrus tree is infected with Huanglongbing: leaves become yellow, fruits drops easily, the juice is bitter, and the fruit is smaller.
  • An estimated 60 percent of Californians have at least one citrus tree in their yard. That accounts for an estimated 15 million trees.
  • The University of California Division of Agricultural and Natural Resources offers on online course on Asian citrus psyllid and Huanglongbing at class.ucanr.edu under the “Master Gardener Courses” section.
  • The web site citrusinsider.org has a variety of free instructional materials, including wallet cards, training videos, educational fliers, brochures, and posters available.
  • Research by Daugherty, an assistant extension specialist at UC Riverside, shows that a switch in the strategy for fighting Huanglongbing in Southern California may be needed. Instead of focusing prevention efforts on urban environments where backyard citrus trees are common he said the focus should shift to larger commercial citrus farms to cut down on farm-to-farm transmission of the disease.

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