In July and August, a few growers in Ventura County, in partnership with the Ventura County ACP-HLB Task Force, contracted to have a privately owned team of canines and handlers survey their orchards as a method of early detection of Huanglongbing (HLB). The canines alerted on 211 citrus trees. Out of an abundance of caution, the growers have made the decision to voluntarily remove some of these trees.
It’s important to note that this method has not been validated by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and is not an approved regulatory tool for detecting the presence of CLas or HLB.
USDA has developed and validated the only regulatory tool for confirming the presence of CLas or HLB, which is a real-time polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) assay. USDA and the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) only recognize samples as positive for CLas or HLB if they are tested at a USDA-accredited laboratory using the USDA-validated qPCR work instruction.
Therefore, a canine alert does not trigger any regulatory action, such as quarantines, treatments or tree removal. As of today, our program’s extensive detection efforts have not confirmed the presence of HLB-positive trees in Ventura County.
The Citrus Pest and Disease Prevention Committee supports growers’ proactive efforts to protect their groves and their industry. Growers who have concerns about the health of trees in their area may contact CDFA to discuss local activities and check on the status of HLB detections.
Jim Gorden, chair, Citrus Pest and Disease Prevention Committee
Victoria Hornbaker, director, Citrus Pest and Disease Prevention Division, CDFA