New Program Targets Abandoned California Citrus Trees

Bayer and California Citrus Mutual (CCM) have teamed up to help protect California’s $2.4 billion commercial citrus industry from the Asian citrus psyllid and the deadly disease it carries through the Abandoned Citrus Tree (ACT) removal program.

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The Asian citrus psyllid (ACP) vectors the deadly Huanglongbing (HLB) disease, commonly known as citrus greening. The ACT removal program allows growers to identify abandoned trees that could threaten their groves.

ACP is a formidable threat to the industry. Even under the best insect management programs in commercial groves, the pest moves readily from residential areas to commercial farming operations and then from one grove to another.

Citrus_Matters_LogoThe psyllids feed on the leaves and stems of citrus trees, which infects them with the bacterium Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus that causes HLB. Infected trees rapidly decline in health, produce inedible fruit, and usually die within five years. HLB is one of the most serious citrus diseases in the world. Once a tree is infected, there is no cure.

One critical line of defense is to monitor trees in residential areas that neighbor commercial groves. Through the ACT program, CCM works with growers, government officials and local residents to review and agree to the removal of trees that are not being properly managed and pose a threat to harbor ACP and spread HLB.

“We see this as an important partnership with homeowners and the agricultural community to help preserve the integrity and health of the mutual environment we share,” says Steve Olson, Bayer citrus crop lead. “The Asian citrus psyllid has wreaked havoc on the Florida citrus industry and has spread to the southwest and western states at an alarming rate. We need residential tree owners to learn about this threat and partner with commercial growers to save California citrus.”

Bayer and CCM joined forces in 2015 to create #CitrusMatters, a campaign aimed at creating awareness for California homeowners to increase understanding about the devastating disease. Citrus Matters made a donation in 2015 to help fund research at Cal Poly Pomona focused on the disease.