Local, state and national ag officials, growers and even residents are to be commended on not only how they handled the Asian citrus psyllid finds, but for working together to keep the restrictions to the shortage time possible.
The restrictions, basically a quarantine, that had been in place since early this year were lifted Monday, much sooner than most expected. The restrictions were lifted because no more psyllids have been found in the county.
The Asian citrus psyllid is a major threat to our No. 1 industry — citrus. The tiny pest — smaller than an aphid — carries the fatal disease huanglongbing, or citrus greening, that has devastated much of the citrus crop in Florida and has been spreading.
Tulare County citrus, with most of that along the foothills between Dinuba and Ducor, is nearly a billion dollar a year crop. Because citrus is harvested practically year round, thousands of people are employed in that industry.
Not only did officials act quickly, but they did so decisively with the impacts on the industry forefront in their thinking. Instead of 20-mile radius quarantine areas, ag officials went with two 5-mile radius restriction zones. Officials also allowed fruit to be moved from orchard to packing house if it had been treated, eliminating the need for growers to have to clean the crop of any leaves or stems before leaving the restricted zone.
Private property owners in the areas where the two pests were discovered were very cooperative in allowing their citrus trees to be sprayed almost immediately after the bugs were found.
Everyone should be commended. With that said, we all still need to remain diligent and remember it will take such cooperation in the future to keep the pest from destroying our area’s number one industry.