Citrus Greening is Devastating Organic Citrus

Citrus greening, or Huanglongbing, threatens the citrus industry on a massive scale. It has devastated millions of acres of citrus crops throughout the United States and abroad, ravaging countries in Asia, Africa, and South America. The highly destructive disease can spread quickly, and once a tree is infected, it cannot be cured.

Currently, the most common method for controlling citrus greening is by spraying large amounts of synthetic pesticides such as neonicotinoids. These toxic sprays have had only limited success, and have been responsible for large-scale bee die-offs. Other non-organic research has focused on creating GMO varieties of citrus trees resistant to citrus greening.

Additionally, conventional strategies have not yet proven effective and have contributed to policy decisions that are not compatible with organic management. For example, applications of synthetic pesticides have been mandated as an eradication method in California citrus groves, including certified organic groves, in regions where the psyllid has been detected, but no organic alternatives have been offered as substitutes for these mandatory spray regimes.

Organic citrus growers need ways to control this devastating disease without the use of dangerous chemicals or genetic engineering. However, there is little research examining organically compliant methods for controlling citrus greening. To address this issue, The Organic Center has launched a multi-year research project in collaboration with university researchers, citrus growers, and other non-profits to find holistic organic solutions to controlling citrus greening organically.