The Riverside County Board of Supervisors is poised to approve a contract with the state to continue deploying staff from the county Office of the Agricultural Commissioner for countywide regulatory enforcement actions to contain and eliminate “citrus greening disease.”
The California Department of Food & Agriculture has previously contracted with the county to ensure enforcement is handled locally, and the $400,547 contract on the supervisors’ agenda Tuesday would cover the cost of ongoing “bulk citrus regulatory activity” in the current fiscal year, according to Executive Office documents posted to the agenda.
Funds would be allocated for inspections, quarantines and other measures needed to identify and mitigate threats and risks posed by the Asian citrus psyllid.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, psyllid infestations were uncovered in numerous locations in northwest and southwest Riverside County last year.
In July 2017, a grapefruit tree and two citrus trees in the area of Chicago and Marlborough avenues in Riverside became infested with the pests, prompting the state to place a quarantine over a 94-square-mile area encompassing both Riverside and San Bernardino counties. Under the still-active state order, only citrus products that are “commercially cleaned and packed” are permitted to be shipped out of the quarantine zone.
According to state officials, no citrus nursery stock can be moved outside the area under quarantine, and no residentially grown citrus fruit can be moved. However, growers may continue to consume and share with people within the quarantined locations.
A map of the impacted area, along with the boundaries of similar quarantines in Los Angeles and Orange counties, can be found at gis2.cdfa.ca.gov/Plant/CitrusQuarantines/ .
In August 2017, the board declared a local state of emergency because of the potential spread of Huanglongbing, better known as “citrus greening disease.”
The county’s roughly 20,000 acres of commercial citrus crops yield about $187 million annually, and greening disease poses a direct threat, according to agricultural officials.
Asian citrus psyllids host virulent bacteria that cause the disease, which destroys plants’ vascular systems. The finger-tip size, moth-like insects made their U.S. debut in Florida nearly 20 years ago.
Greening disease rampaged throughout Florida in 2005 and has inflicted an estimated $3 billion damage to crops in the Sunshine State, according to a study published by the University of Florida.
Psyllids originate in tropical and subtropical regions. They first appeared in California in 2008 and have been trapped in citrus-growing areas throughout the Inland Empire.
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