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New ACP find in Kern County raises concerns

Todd Fitchette ACP feeding on citrus leaf
The Asian citrus psyllid is known to spread the deadly Huanglongbing disease in citrus.
Breeding population of Asian citrus psyllids found within two miles of commercial groves in southern Kern County

The discovery of a breeding population of Asian citrus psyllids on four sites in a rural Kern County, Calif. community raised concerns recently as the discovery appears within a short distance of commercial citrus groves.

Darin Heard, assistant agricultural commissioner for Kern County, said officials found two ACP on traps during normal trap inspections in the area. Subsequent investigations by California Department of Food and Agriculture staff found the breeding population of ACP – adults and nymphs – on four sites in Maricopa, a small community at the southwest corner of the San Joaquin Valley. This is the first such find of ACP in Kern County this year, Heard said.

Officials were able to collect live psyllids for testing. Those insects will be examined to determine if they have the bacteria that causes Huanglongbing, a deadly citrus disease that has caused the removal of over 900 residential trees in southern California but has not been found in the Central Valley.

After collecting psyllid samples from the trees, state officials treated the trees to kill the insects and temporarily protect the trees from being further infested by ACP.

Commercial growers in the area had already treated their groves in a coordinated effort to combat the invasive pest, according to Judy Zaninovich, ACP grower liaison with the California Department of Food and Agriculture. This is the time of year university experts recommend coordinated treatments of commercial groves because of the new growth that tends to appear on citrus trees in the San Joaquin Valley.

“We’re trying to be proactive in controlling this pest,” she said.

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