Post April 27th ACP Meeting Summary & Implementation Suggestions for 2016

Greetings! On April 27th organic citrus growers, P.C.A.s and other industry members from several So. Cal. counties met to get updates from the state’s Citrus Pest & Disease Program and the Biological Control Program in Riverside as well as receive observations and insight from a selected group of speakers and panelists for organic solutions to controlling the ACP and HLB.  First, Enrico Ferro, our CPDPP Liaison for So. Cal. and Dr. David Morgan informed the packed room that:

1. HLB (Citrus Greening Disease) has devastated Florida, where a recent survey estimated that over 90% of the citrus trees are affected with HLB. In California, HLB has now spread to 4 more trees in the original area of San Gabriel (Los Angeles area).

2. CPDPP will continue to promote its plan for all organic growers to follow a spray program for the 2016 year (i.e., spring and fall flushes and winter-over), with the additional support of growers introducing predator/beneficial insects into the groves between sprays.

3. Containment of the L.A. region with controlled spraying, removal of affected trees and focused, multiple releases of Tamarixia wasps has had positive results so far.  The Biological Program Center in Riverside will continue to focus on its plan to give priority to the L.A. containment areas with its growing but limited production of the wasp.

4. Organic growers would not receive the Tamarixia wasp this year! Dr. Morgan stated that a decision was made by the state committee in charge of the direction of the biological program to only allow conventional citrus growers to get the wasp because the committee believed that organic growers as a whole are not complying with the committee’s protocol to spray at least twice per year. Dr. Morgan encouraged the organic growers in the audience to attend upcoming meetings of the committee to voice their concerns or comments.

Ken Kupfer from KMAnt Pro then presented his case (in pictures) for organic control of the ACP in his area of Tampa, Florida where several years ago his young back-yard trees that showed the signs of HLB now are strong healthy trees FREE of ACP!  He credited his success to the use of organic fertilizers and the introduction of beneficial plants, such as the Tropical Milkweed and beneficial insects, such as Lacewings, Ladybugs, Big Eye flies, Spiders, etc. His message of “Controlling the Ants First” continues to be the most important factor if we want the Beneficial Insects to eat ACP adults, eggs and nymphs.

Finally, we heard the observations and opinions from our panel of P.C.A.s (Joe Barcinas, Jim Davis, Enrico Ferro, Matt Hand) as to what they have seen in the groves and how organic growers should proceed.  After much debate and interjection from several members of the audience, the following was learned:

1. With exception of Enrico Ferro, who supports CPDPP’s directive for a planned area approach of spraying at specific times of tree flush (i.e., early spring, fall and winter) along with the release of beneficial insects, the rest of the panel seemed to support the idea of an IPM (Integrated Pest Management) approach of increasing the supply of predator insects in our groves and only spray if necessary. They cited that Florida’s approach to control by spraying 10 to 12 times per year yielded not only the loss of money spent on ACP control, but the loss of entire groves.

2. Production of the Tamarixia and a second wasp known as Diaphorencyrtus should be made to the citrus growers through approved private industry production companies so that organic growers can purchase them.

3. Releasing of more beneficial insects should be considered by all organic citrus growers.

4. An alternative organic ACP control formula was more formally introduced by one of the organic growers in the audience, which includes the use of organic garlic and organic chili powders in the formula.

5. HLB (Citrus Greening Disease) may begin to show up in the near future. All Growers will need to do what they can to help prevent ACP populations from developing in and near their groves.

Once again, it is time to be very proactive with our neighbors, as well as engaging with the CPDPP to make sure these grove properties are inspected and treated, especially if they have less than 25 trees. Remember, there is still no cost at this time for these smaller treatments.  Check with CPDPP online at www.citrusinsider.org or www.californiacitrusthreat.org for more information or contact our local DPDPP Liaison, Enrico Ferro at ferro@inbox.com

Post meeting discussions include the development of interest in area-wide beneficial insect releases this summer.  If you are interested in participating in this program, please contact my office or Jim Davis at Entomology Services Inc. (ESI) jim.davis@esi-consulting.com who will be administering this program.  Of course, I encourage you to discuss this first with your P.C.A.  Your comments and suggestions are always welcome for the betterment of the control and containment of this potentially devastating disease.

Best Regards for Successful Organic Growing in 2016,

Rich Hart