The Citrus Research Board plans new labs throughout Southern California:
The Citrus Research Board, a Visalia group funded by California citrus growers, has hired MaryLou Polek, a plant pathologist who earned her Ph.D at UCR in 1993. She will lead the fight against Asian citrus psyllid, an insect the size of a pea that can carry a disease called citrus greening.
The disease, which is incurable, has decimated the citrus industry in Florida and other parts of the world. The insect, but not the disease, has been found in San Diego and Imperial counties, leading to a quarantine limiting plant movement in portions of those counties.
“We want to find it early so we can take action and do something about it,” said Ted Batkin, president of the Citrus Research Board. “Unfortunately, in Florida, the disease spread throughout the state before they knew about it. As a result, they’re losing acreage rapidly.”
The board is spending $1.1 million this year to open laboratories in Riverside, San Diego and the San Joaquin Valley to test citrus tree leaves and branches from backyards and nurseries for the disease, Batkin said. Research, in conjunction with UCR professors, will also be done at the Riverside lab, he said.
A lab is planned for the San Joaquin Valley because 85 percent of the state’s citrus is grown in the region, Polek said.
85% of the state’s oranges are grown in the San Joaquin Valley, and a major portion of that is in and around Porterville. What will happen to the citrus industry if Porterville is paved over per long term master plans?