USDA Announces $30 Million to Fight Citrus Greening

February 13, 2015 – The US Department of Agriculture took aim at Citrus Greening this week with $30 million in funding for 22 projects to help citrus growers battling the devastating bacterial disease, spread by the invasive Asian Citrus Psyllid (ACP).

In a boost to organic growers, many of the funded projects involve nontoxic treatments including thermotherapy for infected trees, trials of resistant rootstock, strengthening tree resistance with low-pH irrigation water, biological control with various beneficial insects, insect trapping, and diagnosing early infections with the help of trained dogs.

Citrus Greening, the common name for the disease caused by the Huanglongbing bacteria, is epidemic in Florida, the center of the US citrus industry, and is now migrating to other citrus-producing states. Intensive insecticide spraying for ACP has barely slowed the spread of HLB, but has helped create insecticide-resistant ACP, spurring the demand for alternatives to conventional insecticide treatments.

The current funding includes more than $7 million for 15 near-term projects administered by the HLB Multiagency Task Force, and another $23 million for longer-term research projects funded through the Specialty Crop Research Initiative’s Citrus Research and Education (CDRE) program. The CDRE grants have been distributed to researchers at University of Florida, Gainesville; Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kan.; University of California, Davis; and University of California Riverside.

By Maria Gaura, OFRF

Image courtesy of USDA