Skirt-pruned-citrus
Skirt pruning of citrus destined for South Korea is just one of several protocols growers will once-again face when exporting fruit from California.

California citrus exports to S. Korea, China back on table

Pest and disease control a critical issue for trade

California citrus growers wishing to ship fresh fruit to South Korea, China or Australia will want to pay close attention to export protocols, according to industry officials who spoke recently in Tulare.

For those shipping fruit to South Korea, protocols in place last year could largely remain the same though discussions exist into issues that could bring some changes.

At the heart of the issue is the necessity to keep the fuller rose beetle (FRB) and California red scale (CRS), two insects on a 22-page list of excluded pests into South Korea, out of shipments to the country. Not all of pests on this list are an issue for citrus growers.

Aggressive control efforts need to continue, according to John Loyd, trade specialist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This includes:

  • Maintaining aggressive grove treatment efforts based on University of California Integrated Pest Management (UC IPM) guidelines;
  • Skirt pruning trees; and
  • Maintaining written standard operating procedure policies and grower letters on file.

For FRB, skirt pruning, weed control, and a two-insecticide spray regime are recommended. Conversely, there are no specific requirements related to California red scale other than the need to control the pest, according to Jim Cranney, president, California Citrus Quality Council.

Though the USDA will not enforce or regulate UC IPM guidelines, Loyd says the agency will look at a grower’s use of these practices for fruit found during inspections that fails to meet export standards.

Loyd encourages growers and packinghouses to keep up with fruit fly quarantine updates in and around southern California ports as shipping fruit into or through those zones from outside those boundaries is regulated.

“Because of these new fruit fly quarantines in the Los Angeles area it is important to safeguard your shipments going through those ports,” Loyd told a packed room of citrus growers and packers at Tulare.

UC entomologist Beth Grafton-Cardwell understands the difficulties of controlling FRB and CRS, particularly in recent years as warmer winters and long, hot summers have added at least one generation to CRS populations each year. FRB populations can be difficult to kill with current approved chemistry.

For these and other reasons, Grafton-Cardwell encourages growers to remain vigilant with pest control efforts as consecutive seasons of proactive control appear to have had a positive cumulative impact on pest populations.

While growers have relied upon pre-harvest treatments for these pests, she says researchers are studying post-harvest solutions for treatment that can be used with pre-harvest protocols that could have a positive impact on pest populations in citrus groves.

Current recommendations include a three-treatment spray regime with application timings in June, August and October, she says. For those electing a two-spray regime, for whatever the reason, Grafton-Cardwell recommends spraying in August and October with approved products, though she thinks a well-timed and placed application of the product Brigade by ground in June, August and October applications could be a better option than a two-spray program.

“Korea is one of our bigger markets for citrus making this an important issue to follow,” Loyd says.

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