BRAWLEY, Calif. - Farmworker leaders in Brawley participated in a workshop Tuesday morning to learn more about a plant disease that kills citrus.
The disease is spread by an insect and can be found in California today.
News 11 joined the farmworkers to learn more.
The disease is called Huanglongbing or HIB and is spread by this little insect, the Asian Citrus Psyllid.
“Primarily this training is targeting frontline leaders in the field and we are trying to get the message out to the pickers about the things they can do to help stop the movement of the Asian Citrus Psyllid,” said Annika Forester, Training Consultant with Citrus Pest and Disease Prevention Program.
Participants on Tuesday had an interactive learning experience and learned that humans are the main source of transportation for this problem.
A demonstration showed the importance of cleaning equipment so that no leaves are being carried, possibly transporting the pesky insect.
“You can barely see it with your eye, when it’s its full grown adult stage, it’s quarter of an inch long possibly and it has a very specific shape when it's on the leaf, it stands at a 45 degree angle when its wings are up,” explained Forester.
The adult insect feeds on citrus leaves and likes to lay their eggs in the tender shoots where tissue is the softest.
“We want to believe if we help people here this thing will not spread anywhere else in California, like it did in Florida,” said Louis Curiel, Manager at Crown Citrus.
In 2016, 90 percent of the orange groves in Florida were affected. The disease originated in Asia and was detected almost 100 years ago.
Other areas around the world have been heavily impacted, causing people to lose jobs.
“In Colima, Mexico, where the disease started in 2010, they've lost half of their citrus industry jobs, they had 20,000 people employed in citrus and now they only have ten. So they lost 10,000 jobs in the state of Colima,” said Forester.
“If they see any problems with any tree dying or deformed or anything like that, to call ag commissioner or the city of Brawley and let them know, hey I got this, I want to see if somebody can come out here and take care of this thing and look it over, that’s the importance,” added Curiel.
For more information on HIB and its affected areas you can visit http://californiacitrusthreat.org/.