EL CENTRO – An audit report on the Citrus Pest Control District caught the attention of the Board of Supervisors as they noticed the audit itself was going to send the inactive district into the red. Questions were raised whether the citrus district needed to be disbanded.
Linda Evans, Assistant Agricultural Commissioner, said that recent increase counts of the Asian Citrus Pysillid and the notice that Los Angeles County no longer had the funds to monitor residential citrus home growers, a large source of pest breeding.
The Imperial Valley Citrus District had been maintained by the Winterhaven growers, as citrus had diminished in the valley. However, the opposite now exists, Winterhaven growers want out as their acreage has declined, and the local citrus group has flourished, especially in the northend.
The District might have been disbanded by attrition if not for the Asian citrus pysillid and LA Counties inability to monitor and repress spread of the pest and the more devastating fungus it carries.
With the elevated threat, the valley growers are in the process of mailing ballots to the actual landowners of the farmed citrus ground. They will vote whether to keep active the district since the assessment to fund the operation will be through their property taxes. Actual acreage is being tallied now as vote is weighted by acreage.
If they vote to continue the district, then a board will be formed from the growers and managers. They will immediately assess themselves and begin programs to eradicate the pest locally.
Evans said the pysillid has been found in traps locally, but the numbers are low and no disease caused by the pest has been detected.
The agricultural commissioner’s office have no money for eradication but they oversee the spraying efforts and the do the trapping, then give the farmers the data they have collected.
Supervisor Wyatt commented that the board can neither stop nor start the Citrus Council, they are only managers, it is only the land owners that can vote to stop or start the citrus district since they are the one that pays.