Pictured: The invasive Asian citrus psyllid spreads a disease that kills citrus trees. 

by Kimberly Rivers

krivers@timespublications.com

“There is no mandatory spraying program required by my office, or by the state,” said Ed Williams, Ventura County Agricultural Commissioner. He was responding to questions from the VCReporter regarding statements from local commercial growers that they felt spraying for the Asian citrus psyllid (ACP) which carries bacteria that causes the Huanglongbing (HLB) disease was mandated to protect citrus growing operations. Williams also said his office does “not treat any properties for ACP in Ventura County,” and “homeowners have the ability to opt out” of the spraying program administered by the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

There is a local voluntary organization, the Ventura County ACP/HLB Task Force, that has a recommended spraying program involving up to three “annual treatments” in designated zones across the county. “These treatments are the best way to prevent any ACP that have the HLB disease from spreading the HLB to healthy citrus trees,” Williams said.

Some growers may believe spraying is mandatory because there are requirements established by the California Secretary of Food and Agriculture for fruit that is being moved “from one ACP quarantine zone to another” en route to market and packing houses. That fruit must be treated before harvest, or the grower must “complete a field cleaning process to remove any ACP.” According to Williams packing houses can process citrus grown organically, without the spraying for ACP, or those growers that are not spraying can conduct the field cleaning process to meet the requirements.

Williams also pointed out that “avocado treatments are generally required by foreign trade partners who do not want any pests that we may have in California moved to their countries. We certify shipments sent to these foreign countries based on their requirements.”