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The 5 Most Challenging Invasive Species of 2020

The 5 Most Challenging Invasive Species of 2020

(For the Garden Industry)

For months, I’ve been publishing content hinting at the end of the year. Well, it’s finally arrived, the actual end of the year. So here I am, participating in the annual moment of reflection for perhaps the most controversial and difficult year in recent history. As l look back, all I can think of is how much we’ve overcome. 

This year was nothing short of a challenge and being here today feelings like nothing shy of a miracle. But, looking back at all of the hard work our industry put in to thrive and stay afloat it’s not surprising that more growers and sellers saw upsides rather than downs.

With the ever present threat of invasive species, disease, and pests learning from this past year’s challenges will be just what we need to tackle 2021.

Let’s take a look back at this year’s 5 Most Challenging Invasive Species

#1. The Emerald Ash Borer (Agrilus planipennis Fairmaire)

This pest officially became so widespread this past year, that the USDA has ruled to roll back the quarantine efforts of the invasive species.

This pest officially infests all but 13 states of the contiguous United States of America.

Despite best efforts to quarantine and control the pest, the spread of the beetle has left many states with no other option but to remove the coveted Ash trees from their lands, and discontinue efforts of regulations. 

The new USDA approach hopes to reserve funding and efforts currently used for quarantining the Emerald Ash Borer, so that more effective management can be developed and executed. [1]

#2. Asian Citrus Psyllid (Diaphorina citri Kuwayama or ACP)

This particular pest is always at the top of our list when it comes to terrible, no good, invasive species. As we’ve discussed in some of our previous blogs, the Asian Citrus Psyllid spreads the Huanglongbing (HLB) disease, also known as Citrus Greening, that currently has no cure.

Citrus Greening is responsible for a 21% decline in the fresh citrus fruit market, as well as a 72% decline in the production of oranges as of 2019. [2] The pest and its disease is currently found in 9 states throughout the contiguous United States, all residing within the citrus belt of the U.S. 

The ever growing threat of this pest and the disease it carries is the root of the numerous citrus agreements, certifications, and licenses that are necessary for the Green Industry. Maybe in 2021 we’ll finally be able to get rid of this sucker for good!

#3. Gypsy Moth (Asian & European) 

Besides being my least favorite invasive pest to look at, this pest sure is a doozy!

 It has many technical names. The Asian Gypsy Moth is scientifically identified as “AGM, including Lymantria dispar asiatica, Lymantria dispar japonica, Lymantria albescens, Lymantria umbrosa, and Lymantria post¬alba[3]. The European Gypsy Moth is scientifically identified as “lobesia botrana or EGVM” [4].

See? A doozy. 

But what’s more frustrating about this pest is the way that it invades its host trees and does just enough damage before leaving and making way for more dangerous diseases and pests to kill it off. Some of their trees of choice are Oak trees, Sweet Gum trees, Willow trees, Birch trees, Apple trees, and Boxelder trees. However, there are plenty of other trees they seek. The Asian variety of the gypsy moth eats both evergreen and deciduous tree varieties, while the European variety only targets deciduous trees.

But as if their damage wasn’t enough, these apparently evolved species of moths also are difficult to prevent and control. Their unique “ballooning” method of transfer that their egg sacs can have, allows for them to be carried by wind instead of just flight. 

It was estimated back in 2011 that for the 20 years prior this pest had caused $30 million dollars in damages A YEAR! [5].

#4. Spotted Lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula)

If you follow us on social media @PlantSentry, or frequent our blogs, you’re probably familiar with this pest!

This pest has been around since it was first found in Pennsylvania in 2014. Since then, management efforts against the pest have been challenging to say the least. Part of the difficulty in managing this pest is that their eggs, larvae, and adults easily travel undetected through contaminated material. These materials can include your shoes, firewood, and really anything else they can attach themselves to.

Educational efforts such as Play Clean Go help provide guidance to many of us who unknowingly transfer this pest in our outdoor activities. 

This pest favors grape vines, hardwoods, and fruit trees, but will devor just about any plant. The fruit industry has been particularly impacted by this [6]. So far their cost in damages has resulted in a $50 Million dollar decline throughout the state of Pennsylvania. [7]

Part of this economic decline as a result of the pest has also been 500 jobs lost throughout the state of Pennsylvania. [7]

#5. Kudzu (Pueraria montana var. lobata)

Ah, finally #5, Kudzu! Now here’s a real handful of an invasive species. This guy has been in the U.S. for years, all the way back to 1876, and was an introduced species originally used to help control erosion. Since its arrival this invasive species has become perhaps the most invasive plant species in the U.S.

This plant currently inhabits mostly the Southeastern portion of the country but can be found in 30 states throughout the U.S. 13 of the 50 contiguous states currently list this plant as a noxious weed, although it is no longer a federally listed noxious weed. [8]

With the ability to overgrow even trees in a forest, this plant overcrowds existing vegetation and prevents healthy growth of native species in their regions. It is currently estimated that this plant covers about 20,000 to 30,000 square kilometers of land throughout the U.S. [9]

Nationwide this invasive species contributes to roughly $500 million dollars lost in cropland and control efforts. [9]

Looking Forward in 2021

So there you have it, the 5 most challenging invasive species that we faced in 2020 throughout the Garden Industry.

It’s difficult to look at this list without concern for the future and wonder what combative steps we might take as an industry against these species. At Plant Sentry™ we ask these same questions and we have these same concerns. This is why as a company we’ve set the standard to provide the best possible guidance not just for ourselves, but for those we serve in resolving the challenges that invasive species bring. 

Our company, Plant Sentry™, started out as a small idea, but it has turned into a component for much greater change. Throughout our industry companies and clients are showing more interest in working to resolve the challenges and issues that invasive species bring. As we greet the new year of 2021, we’re confident that our community will continue to encourage a brighter future with less invasive species.

Until then,

Happy New Year from Plant Sentry™



Citations:

[1] https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/resources/pests-diseases/hungry-pests/the-threat/emerald-ash-borer/emerald-ash-borer-beetle

[2] https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpls.2018.01976/full

[3] https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/resources/pests-diseases/hungry-pests/the-threat/asian-gypsy-moth/asian-gypsy-moth

[4] https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/resources/pests-diseases/hungry-pests/the-threat/hp-egvm/hp-egvm

[5] https://agr.wa.gov/getmedia/5f85b41e-5a29-4a1b-ba98-4cba7731934e/gm2011factsheet.pdf?oldurl=PlantsInsects/InsectPests/GypsyMoth/ControlEfforts/docs/GM2011FactSheet.pdf

[6] https://plantsentry.com/2019/03/22/spotted-lanternfly-lycorma-delicatula/

[7] https://www.post-gazette.com/news/environment/2020/01/19/Spotted-lanternfly-costing-Pennsylvania-damage-destroy-invasive-hardwoods-industry/stories/202001190037#:~:text=The%20spotted%20lanternfly%2C%20an%20invasive,Penn%20State%20study%20released%20Thursday.

[8] http://nyis.info/invasive_species/kudzu/

[9] https://www.sciencedaily.com/terms/kudzu.htm#:~:text=In%20all%2C%20kudzu%20infests%2020%2C000,lost%20cropland%20and%20control%20costs.

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Oh Christmas Tree!

Oh Christmas Tree!

Nothing says “ ‘Tis the Season” like a decorated evergreen variety adorned with Christmas lights and Christmas ornaments from top to bottom. Beautifully needled branches are carefully coated with decorations, and tucked with presents and tree skirts around their trunks. Just one of these sparkling trees adds a touch of holiday cheer to your home. Internationally this tree is recognized as a symbol of Christmas and annual Yule tidings.

But, what many don’t realise is that before it becomes a Christmas tree, this beautiful symbol of joy and togetherness is just a tree in a forest or on a farm.

A Brief History

When Christmas trees first began their journey as these beloved holiday symbols, it was the 16th Century and things were very different then. It wouldn’t have been uncommon for someone to simply chop down their own tree and haul into their village or home. 

But as time has passed, our processes for scouting and cutting down trees have changed significantly. No longer is it permissible to simply walk into the woods and bring home the perfect sized tree.

According to the National Christmas Tree Association roughly 350 Million Christmas trees are grown on tree farms throughout the United States. Out of all these trees sold, about 25 to 30 Million of them are real trees! [2]

Year after year as the holiday season approaches tree growers throughout North America prepare for some of their busiest selling seasons. The state of Oregon is recognized as the number one grower and seller of Christmas tree varieties in the United States. [3] While they produce and sell millions of evergreen trees a year, there are still people who seek the historical route of cutting down a tree in the forest. 

Finding the Right Tree

While seeking out a real Christmas tree has a lower carbon footprint than artificial trees, before walking out into the woods for yours, there’s a few things you should know. 

First, as we mentioned carbon footprints, you should think about yours. While an artificial Christmas tree may last longer, you would need to use it for about 12 years in order to begin offsetting its carbon footprint. Many artificial trees are manufactured overseas and must travel before arriving at the stores for consumers to buy. Whereas a natural and real Christmas tree has a significantly lower carbon footprint.

If the environmental factors of a Christmas tree matter to you, consider composting or recycling the tree after the holidays to decrease the carbon footprint.

The second nugget of information for you to consider is that purchasing from a local tree farm is a great way to support your local economy! While Oregon produces the most Christmas trees nationwide, there are plenty of other states that grow them too. Look throughout your local community for a grower reasonably close by and have the type of trees you’re looking for. Buying local is also a great way to prevent the spread of pests and disease that can occur in interstate plant shipping. 


Trees that are shipped from overseas must be certified from pests such as the Pine Shoot Moth, and the Phytophagous Snail. Other serious pests of concern are the Mountain Pine Beetle and the Southern Pine Beetle that have ravaged a number of pine environments within recent years. Much like the transferring of firewood, evergreen trees, our beloved Christmas trees, pose real threats to the environments that they move into. Shopping local helps keep your local ecosystems safe and your environment healthy. [5]

The third and final bit of information that is important for you as a Christmas tree lover is that if you want to cut down your own tree in the forest, you’re going to need a permit. While technically the forest is public land, much of it is protected by parks and forestry services.

If you’re looking to cut down your own tree, reach out to your local forest services office to obtain a permit and cutting instructions. Your local forest department will also provide you with the specific dates, times, maps, and accessibility information needed for cutting down your tree.

The Star On Top

There are a few more tips that you should consider before heading out to cut down your own tree and they are:

-Most permits for holiday trees are issued in November

-Always tell someone exactly where you’re going and have a backup plan for safety.

-Err on the side of caution and pack emergency supplies including food, water, insulating materials, and first aid supplies before heading out to chop down your tree.

-The tree you select must be at least 200 ft. away from main roadways, campgrounds, and recreational areas.

-Check with your local forest department before heading out for your chopping for road closures, weather warnings, and potential fires. [4]

There are several more tips to be aware of before cutting down your own tree in the woods, be sure to visit the U.S. Forest Service’s website for more information.

With the wonder of the Christmas season all around, we wish you all the best luck in finding your perfect tree!

Have a safe and happy holiday season!

From,

Plant Sentry



Citations:

[1] https://www.history.com/topics/christmas/history-of-christmas-trees#:~:text=History%20of%20Christmas-,Christmas%20Trees%20From%20Germany,candles%20if%20wood%20was%20scarce.

[2] https://www.statista.com/statistics/209249/purchase-figures-for-real-and-fake-christmas-trees-in-the-us/#:~:text=According%20to%20the%20National%20Christmas,Christmas%20trees%20sold%20every%20year.

[3] https://www.sightline.org/2015/12/21/your-christmas-trees-carbon-footprint/

[4] https://www.fs.usda.gov/visit/know-before-you-go/tree-cutting

[5] https://www.oregon.gov/oda/programs/NurseryChristmasTree/ShippingPlantMaterial/Pages/ChristmasTreeShipping.aspx

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We’re Grateful

We’re Grateful

2020 has been a wild ride, and as things start taking on a sparkle of hope, we remain excited, yet apprehensive for the future. This Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States and it looks a little different than last year. What is typically the beginning of a warm and rejuvenating American holiday season, this year will be a holiday tradition for many filled with less. 

As dismal as that idea may be, this holiday season may be just what we needed here at Plant Sentry™.  2020 was an unprecedented year! You’ve heard this a dozen, if not hundreds of times, in the media this year. But seriously, it was unprecedented.

How It Changed Us

This year has required great strides in character from all of us, but from our industry even more so. Nursery Management Magazine conducted a survey this past September and found that 47% of their readers in our industry had experienced a sales increase. They also found that 23% had experienced a sales decrease. [1]

We’ve heard growers use the terms “mad dash” and “challenging” probably more this year than ever before. But, what’s amazing is that not a single one of them ever saw these challenges as something that couldn’t be overcome.

So while many of us are still working to fulfill inventories for 2021, we’ll always remember this year as the first season that really showed us just how far we could go.

The Impacts

Like so many other industries we faced the challenge of keeping our employees safe, while continuing to meet the demands of our customers. COVID reignited a fiery passion for plants for many of our customers that created a demand for some companies beyond what they could carry. 

In other parts of our industry companies like Sakata Seed America were donating masks and gloves to medical workers within their areas.[2] AmericanHort headed up efforts on H-2B visas and relief efforts for horticulture. With so many additional hoops to jump through, growers and industry supporters throughout the country showed support and compassion wherever they could, even if it meant donating their orchids to hospitals. 

Some growers saw loss, losing inventory and not being able to pivot to an online storefront fast enough also became a challenge for many. The face of horticulture changed continually throughout the year as e-Commerce took demand and many of the ways we connect with one another were postponed or cancelled.

There’s not a doubt in our minds that 2020 changed our industry for the better but just how much is something we’ll continue to see in the months to come. 

Reflection & Gratitude

Fall leaves in a pile with a lot of color

The challenges of this year were nothing short of extraordinary, yet we overcame them. 

At Plant Sentry™, as we sit down with our family members in our bubble tomorrow, we’ll be reminded of all the moments of gratitude that this year brought. 

We’ll reflect and feel incredibly grateful for each and every one of our clients that allow us to continue to assist in shipping safe and healthy plants. 

We’ll say “thank you” for another year in this industry, and another year to come. 

We will remind ourselves that while so many this year are struggling simply just to keep a roof over their heads, we have been fortunate enough to keep ours. 

In a world that is constantly changing and moving at the speed of light, we’re especially grateful for this time of reflection, and the opportunity to say “Thank You.”

If you’re looking to tighten up your shipping efforts through regulatory and compliance efforts, be sure to drop us a message in our “Contact Us” box below, and let’s see how we can help.

Happy Thanksgiving From Plant Sentry™



Citations:

[1] https://www.nurserymag.com/article/2020-state-of-the-industry-report-covid-19/

[2] https://www.nurserymag.com/article/sakata-seed-america-donates-masks-gloves-in-response-to-covid-19/

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Another Annoying Pest: The Glassy-Winged Sharpshooter

Another Annoying Pest: The Glassy-Winged Sharpshooter

Throughout the history of our blogs, we’ve tackled a number of pests that require heavy regulations. But until now, we failed to recognize one that deserves just as much attention as the Spotted Lanternfly or Japanese Beetle. As we’re sure you can guess from the title we’re talking about the Glassy-Winged Sharpshooter (Homalodisca vitripennis). 

This brown leafhopper has made quite the name for itself throughout our industry. In just the State of California, the pest has contributed significantly to the spread of Pierce’s Disease. The disease affects grapevines, costing California roughly $100M dollars per year [6].

But, California isn’t the only state that’s affected by this pest. Throughout the country States persistently battle this insect in hopes of avoiding another year of steep costs and damages to their livelihoods. 

The Shot of the Sharpshooter

So how does this pest contribute to the above disease and so many other damaging diseases? 

If you’ve missed our other blogs about pests, then allow us to get you caught up. Leafhoppers are known for being vectors of plant diseases throughout the plant world. What this means is that the leafhoppers behave as carriers for the disease. 

Once they’ve contracted it, they don’t take on the same side effects or negative impacts that you’d see in a plant. But, instead continue to behave normally, by feeding on a number of different plant species. In visiting various healthy plants, the insect then transfers the disease to the plant and contaminates it.

The disease that the sharpshooter specifically contracts and spreads, is the bacterium Xylella fastidiosa. This bacterium causes a number of diseases but is primarily known for its cause of Pierce’s disease of grape, phony peach disease, and Oleander leaf scorch [3].

But, as if the disease wasn’t enough, the pest has other ways of causing damage to plants. The insect projectiles, yes, projectiles, a substance that once dried leaves a white hard residue on the fruit of the plants. This residue can cause discoloration of the fruit and the need for post-harvest washing [1].

But it isn’t just their sticky droplets of projectile or the disease that they carry. The nymph stage of the insects also proposes a problem. They are known for feeding heavily on the plants they are hatched in, removing ten times their weight in plant nutrients. As a result the plants are weakened significantly, and are at risk for other harmful diseases and organisms to prey on. 

The Life of the Glassy-Winged

The lifecycle of the pest is similar to that of other pests we’ve discussed before. The female lays her eggs in groups of 3 to 28 under a set of leaves. For optimal success, the female will often choose plants like holly, sunflower, or citrus that provide ideal nutrient conditions for the nymphs. 

Once the eggs are established, the female will then projectile another white substance called bronchosomes over the eggs. These brochosomes are developed only after mating so that they can be dispersed over the egg masses [4]

The eggs will then overwinter [5] and hatch between late March and April. As the early Summer season approaches the nymphs will begin to hatch over 10 to 14 days. This cycle will allow the species to reach their peak around the Summer months and begin laying their own eggs. Once August arrives the insects will begin to decline, and start migrating to more covered areas, such as forests for hibernation.

Where to Be On the Look-Out

While these pests may be native in some parts of the country, there are plenty of places that they aren’t. 

The Glassy-Winged Sharpshooter is a large leafhopper that is native to the Southeastern part of the United States and New Mexico. [1]  However, this pest is currently invasive in Alabama, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, and Hawaii. As a response to the identification of the glassy-winged sharpshooter as an invasive species, many of these states have implemented strict certification laws that require treatment plans for the pest. 

The Glassy-Winged Sharpshooter doesn’t seem to be incredibly partial to any one type of plant. The range of species that the pest will eat run from the common woody plant to the annual and perennial herbaceous plants [3]. This variety of preferences is part of the challenge that growers face in combating the insect.

The species indulges in somewhere around 360 different plant varieties [5]. Some of the most common plants they can be found in are acacia, avocado, crepe myrtle, grape, hibiscus, some roses, periwinkle, and eucalyptus [3]

Taking ‘Em Out

Like for so many other pests in our field, it’s important to be on a constant lookout for anything unusual with your plants. One of the best things you can do for pest management is to keep a watchful eye. Then, if you see anything unusual or that looks like signs or symptoms of a pest or disease, you can act quickly.

As part of their plan to combat Pierce’s disease, the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) has developed a set of guidelines to aid in their approach. Their 3rd point in their 5 point plan of action, is to “Rapid Response.” When navigating control and treatment methods, the faster you act, the more you protect [5]

On the other side of the country, the University of Florida has identified a biological control of their own. A parasitic wasp called, Gonatocerus triguttatus Girault is native to Texas and Northern Mexico and so far has had a positive impact on the control of the sharpshooter. [4]

Other methods of control for the pests that have been found to be successful include removing host plants from the areas that are infected. This cuts them off from any nutrients to keep them going, as well as preventing attraction for infestation. 

There are also treatment methods that include chemical treatments, and other community education efforts that also combat the pests. As always, look into how the chemical treatments may affect your environment before applying and use only as intended. 

Leaping Forward 

As we’ve discussed throughout this article, there are a number of different factors that contribute to the spread and development of the Glassy-Winged Sharpshooter. Moving forward, as we continue to battle the pest it will be ultimately up to the efforts we make. There’s never been a better time to pull up your boot straps and double down on efforts that could protect your business.

Hopefully, a few years from now, our efforts will have been successful and this wretched pest will be a thing of the past. Until then, it is up to each of us to keep our eye on the prize and continue our hard work. 

If you’re feeling like you need some assistance in how these pests may impact your shipping avenues, let us know in the contact box below.



Citations:

[1] http://idtools.org/id/citrus/pests/factsheet.php?name=Glassy-winged+sharpshooter

[2] https://www.invasivespeciesinfo.gov/terrestrial/invertebrates/glassy-winged-sharpshooter

[3] http://ipm.ucanr.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn7492.html

[4] http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/fruit/glassywinged_sharpshooter.htm

[5] https://www.cdfa.ca.gov/pdcp/Documents/Background.pdf

[6] https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/06/180608200209.htm

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Spotted: Lycorma Delicatula in Maine

Spotted: Lycorma Delicatula in Maine

Over the past few weeks in the industry, news outlets have been reporting a new and surprising find in the state of Maine, the Lycorma delicatula. This pest is better known as the Spotted Lanternfly. 

While the insect is not a fly at all, but rather a plant hopper, it has made its way around the globe through its ability to attach itself and its eggs to trees, pallets, stones, and other materials that are often shipped.

This pest first arrived in the U.S. to the state of Pennsylvania in 2014 on a shipment from Asia. Since then the insect has also infiltrated several states within the U.S. including Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Virginia, and West Virginia. While individual findings have also been sighted in Massachusetts and North Carolina, there is no identified establishment of the insect. [2]

While the pest prefers the Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima) they are also known to “settle” for about 70 other plant species. These other species include varieties that produce fruit as well as trees that are often used for timber. [1]

The pests destroy the plants they inhabit by feeding heavily on them and result in the trees oozing sap, leaves curling, and to suffer from dieback (progressive death of the twigs, shoots, and branches of the tree). The damage that the insects cause makes it easier for secondary pests to come in and kill the tree after the lanterfly has significantly weakened them.

Another way that this pest damages plants is in the sugary substance called ‘honeydew’ that they leave behind while feeding. The residue attracts ants, actual flies, and other insects that feed on the substance.

The pest is believed to have arrived in the state of Maine through trees from the state of Pennsylvania, as these trees are where the eggs masses have been identified. The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry has identified that the egg masses were found on the trees, but hatched adult stages of the insect have not been spotted.

The grown insects are about an inch long with a greyish brown body. They have black spots on their wings, and red underwings. Their egg masses are rectangular with a yellow-brown-grey wax coating on them. The eggs are about an inch long and may be found on any flat surface. 


They are asking residents of the state to keep their eyes open for sightings of eggs or adult versions of the pest. Any sightings should be reported to [email protected].

While the state of Maine continues to seek out every nook and cranny for the pests, in other states, scientists are working diligently to identify solutions against them.

Some states have begun breeding predatory species to combat the pest, while others are looking to treatment solutions. But, ultimately the question is being raised as to if, when, and how these pests may spread and affect more states.

For treatments, natural resolutions such as Neem oil are effective in discouraging the insects. However, for an abundance of them chemical treatment methods may be more effective. 

While scientists continue to search for effective solutions, quarantine protocols and thorough inspections are essential to preventing the spread.

To learn more how we can help protect you from the spread of the Spotted Lanternfly be sure to contact us below!

Citations:

[1] https://entomologytoday.org/2019/10/03/invasive-spotted-lanternfly-large-potential-range-united-states-beyond/

[2] https://www.newscentermaine.com/article/tech/science/environment/invasive-spotted-lanternfly-egg-masses-found-in-maine/97-5d0bae98-382d-456c-9fbb-efb3ceaa1935

[3] https://www.udel.edu/udaily/2020/august/spotted-lanternfly-invasive-pest/#:~:text=The%20spotted%20lanternfly%20causes%20serious,dollars%20in%20lost%20agricultural%20production.

[4] https://www.nurserymag.com/article/spotted-lanternfly-egg-masses-discovered-in-maine/

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The Silent Struggle of the Citrus Industry

The Silent Struggle of the Citrus Industry

Throughout the world, there are a number of afflictions that can plague plants of all shapes and sizes. As time continues to pass, plants continue to change. Each change will often lead to an evolution that will potentially combat their native threats. But, there is one plant family that seems to be increasingly in danger with each passing year, that time and evolution can’t protect. 

The citrus family.

Last month we took a deep dive into what makes the two most powerful citrus states in the U.S. move. Now, we’re going to take you into the constant struggles these states face, as they combat a disease that has almost all but wiped out the global citrus supply. 

This month, we’ll be talking about Huanglongbing (HLB), also known as Citrus Greening Disease. This disease has been responsible for compromising every citrus species throughout the globe. With an immense workforce behind the industry, it wouldn’t just be our countertops that could be left empty if the fruits simply disappeared, but also the stomachs and wallets of the millions of people it employs.

So, What is Citrus Greening?

Citrus Greening Disease, or Huanglongbing (HLB), is a far-reaching citrus disease that has impacted the entire world of citrus growing. Once a tree has contracted the disease, its fruit will appear misshapen and green, while having a bitter taste. Within a few years of the disease infecting the tree, it will die.

The name Huanglongbing means “yellow dragon” and pays tribute to the yellow offshoots that the tree will develop as a response to the disease. The name also recognizes the yellowing and greening effects that the disease will have on the fruits.

While the disease is not contagious to human beings, the threat that this disease presents is a threat to the citrus family itself. It is currently identified that Citrus Greening has the capacity to infect every type of citrus on the planet. 

The disease is believed to have first emerged in 1919 in the Southern part of China. [1]  From there the disease will continue to spread all the way to the United States by 2005 when it is first identified in Florida. 

Since its arrival, “citrus greening has been responsible for a 90% reduction to the production of Florida’s most valuable crop” [4].

The active bacterium that infects the citrus plant is the Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus (Las). Through the Asian citrus psyllid (Diaphorina citri), the bacterium is spread infecting citrus plants or contracting the disease themselves. 

Once the psyllid has contracted the bacterium for the disease from an infected tree, it will then infect healthy trees with the disease-causing their decline and the spread of Citrus Greening. 

With few treatments available for the disease and no proven cure, conversations that surround Citrus Greening often focus on slowing the disease, and the extent of the damage that it has caused.

Measuring the Impact of the Disease

The impact that the disease has had on citrus trees has been overwhelming and dismal. In 2016, the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture released a Fact Sheet that recognizes that as a direct result of Citrus Greening, we could see the destruction of the citrus industry within our lifetime. 

Most severely hit, is perhaps the citrus state of Florida where they’ve seen a decrease in orange trees by 20 million, since 1966. In addition to oranges, the grapefruit trees have also drastically declined, to roughly a third of the 14 million that they used to be.

With a recognized impact of serious proportions, the USDA and citrus community fear that the devastation the disease can cause to California, would be just as grave. 

California produces 80% of citrus fruits sold throughout the United States.

In response to the seriousness of Citrus Greening, regulatory efforts surrounding the citrus communities have amplified in hopes of slowing down the spread, and prolonging protection against it for those who have yet to be exposed. 

The states that have confirmed Citrus Greening are: California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Texas, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The states that have confirmed the presence of the psyllid are: Alabama, American Samoa, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Guam, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Texas, and the U.S. Virgin islands. [3]

So far the types of citrus that are identified to be at risk from the disease are: Chinese box-orange, Curry leaf, Finger-lime, Grapefruit, Key Lime, Kumquat, Lemon, Lime, Limeberry, Mandarin Orange, Mock Orange, Orange, Orange Jasmine, Pomelo, Sour Orange, Sweet Orange, Tangerine, and Trifoliate Orange.

But…Not All Hope Is Lost

With the disease continuing to spread and ravage the industry, citrus giants are beginning to see signs of hope through developments against the disease that could just possibly save their entire way of life.

While we previously mentioned that there is no known cure for the disease, we couldn’t bring anything to your attention, at this time, that didn’t come alongside a hopeful ending. 

So, here’s the good news:

Researchers around the country have been working non-stop for years to examine every possible avenue that can expedite the discovery, management, and treatment methods for Citrus Greening.

At the University of Florida (UF) researchers have discovered that citrus trees grown “under oak canopies or alongside Oak (Quercus) trees, are healthy” [4]. Whereas the citrus that is grown a few rows away from this structure often show signs of HLB. 

This observation led to further interest from scientists and researchers that brought them to identify the affect that Oak (Quercus) leaf extracts have as a combatant against the bacterium Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus. Their findings identified that the leaf extracts from the Oak (Quercus) restored the leaves of the HLB infected citrus trees within their physiological parameters. This new discovery could quite possibly mean effective methods against the disease and perhaps greater longevity for the infected trees.

But, these discoveries and advancements haven’t come without a cost, and their own shortcomings. In August of 2019, the UF published an article that back pedaled the long believed “silver bullet” approach of antibiotic spray to fight against HLB. 

They acknowledged that the practice of spraying oxytetracycline and streptomycin solutions may not be as effective as originally believed in combating HLB. But, what they did find was that trunk injections of the bactericides resulted in access to the cellular structure of the trees and their fruit that allowed the oxytetracycline to effectively combat the HLB. 

But this isn’t all of the good news, finally, as we close out our article, we have one more amazing development against this deadly citrus disease. The first effective treatment, capable of controlling Citrus Greening. 

On the west coast, in Riverside California, University of California at Riverside (UC Riverside) has developed the first ever treatment method with curative properties through the use of antimicrobial peptides.[5] 

The peptides derive from a molecule extracted from the Australian Finger Lime. Through 2 years of grueling research Dr. Hailing Jin was able to identify the relationships between the citrus variety’s resistance to the disease and combative properties needed to be successful in other citrus varieties. 

Through the project’s successful trialing and development, UC Riverside has entered an exclusive, global licensing agreement to bring this treatment to market with the company, Invaio. The peptide treatments are needed a few times throughout the year, providing a cheaper and more effective solution in combating HLB than any other approach in the industry.  

Looking to the Future

While developments continue, and there are no guarantees of success, it is important to acknowledge how this disease came to be so difficult. While there were a number of variables that couldn’t have been controlled, there were a number of variables that could have.

The important takeaway from this disease is that while the challenges have been great, our efforts make a difference both in prevention and in treatment. 

As a plant lover, grower, protector, or admirer, it is our responsibility to ensure that our plants are being protected, and are protecting other plants.

When purchasing plants, be sure to ask what treatments your plant may have received before purchasing. Check to see if the plant is an invasive species to your region. And ALWAYS keep a watchful eye for signs of pests and disease. 

Diseases like HLB aren’t just won and lost in a single battle in contributing to its spread. The war is won through continuous combined efforts of regulatory compliance, and company’s like Plant Sentry stepping up to do the right thing. 

We’re always looking for new friends willing to do the right things for growers, consumers, and ultimately themselves. If you think you know one, or may be one of them, be sure to reach out to us below and tell us more about yourself!


Citations:

[1] Bové, J. (2006). HUANGLONGBING: A DESTRUCTIVE, NEWLY-EMERGING, CENTURY-OLD DISEASE OF CITRUS. Journal of Plant Pathology, 88(1), 7-37. Retrieved September 30, 2020, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/41998278

[2] Citrus Greening FAQ. (n.d.). Retrieved September 30, 2020, from https://gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu/care/pests-and-diseases/diseases/citrus-greening-faq.html

[3]  Citrus Greening. (n.d.). Retrieved September 30, 2020, from https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/resources/pests-diseases/hungry-pests/the-threat/citrus-greening/citrus-greening-hp

[4] Koestoyo, Posted:, 22, S., 23, J., 25, G., 22, A., . . . 18, E. (2020, February 12). Oak trees may hold antibacterial to help infected citrus trees. Retrieved October 01, 2020, from http://blogs.ifas.ufl.edu/irrec/2020/01/21/oak-trees-may-hold-antibacterial-to-help-infected-citrus-trees/

[5] New tools in the fight against lethal citrus disease. (2020, August 25). Retrieved October 02, 2020, from https://news.ucr.edu/articles/2020/08/10/new-tools-fight-against-lethal-citrus-disease

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Mini-Blog: Invasive Species

Mini-Blog: Invasive Species

It seems as if the year 2020 can’t seem to get worse, but every time I turn around, there it is, even worse. For small islands like that of Hawaii, 2020 has been particularly difficult to navigate. In addition to the threat of COVID-19 and the ravaging effects it could have on a small disconnected island such as itself, climate change has made the year even more challenging. 

Invasive species are increasingly detrimental on small island communities like Hawaii, who have delicate ecosystems that are deeply connected through each organism and their participating contributions to the islands. 

Due to the rapid increase of climate change, these invasive species are being given more advantageous opportunities to thrive and exist in these spaces.

In June of 2020, National Geographic Magazine published an article highlighting the different variables that have led to the blooming invasive population of the coqui. The brown tree frog is native to the island of Puerto Rico, where it is cherished and celebrated.

But on the island of Hawaii, this frog is responsible for the decimation of entire species of insects, birds, and plants. Hawaii has developed in such an isolated and delicate manner with unique properties that are a result of the distance between themselves and the mainlands. 

As a result, when invasive species infiltrate quiet and isolated environments the impacts on the native species are devastating and tremendous. 

But, Hawaii isn’t the only state whose National Forests have been struggling as a result of invasive species. Nearly every National Forest in the United States has been facing a challenging reality of depleted and changed ecosystems as a direct result of invasive species. 

It is estimated that more than 6,500 foreign species exist within the United States. To resolve this issue, the United States Department of Agriculture spends around $2.5 Billion dollars annually to combat invasive species.  

Despite the enormous bill that the U.S. Department of Agriculture foots annually to fight against invasive species, it isn’t enough. National Park workers need more than money to combat these species. They need your help! 

When you’re out in nature and see an invasive species be sure to report it, and if you know the local capturing and eradication procedures, do your part to help eliminate the problem. 

To report an invasive species visit: https://www.eddmaps.org/

But, that isn’t all you can do. Using and suggesting compliance programs, such as Plant Sentry™, can help growers protect their customers and environments from numerous invasive species.

Do your part and suggest Plant Sentry™ and report invasive species!



Citations:

[1] Photograph courtesy Dr. Steve A. Johnson, & Linkel, P. (2020, June 29). National parks are being overrun by invasive species. Retrieved September 21, 2020, from https://www.nationalgeographic.com/travel/destinations/north-america/united-states/national-parks/invasive-species-threaten-native-plants-and-animals-visitors-can-help/

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Mini-Blog: Compliance

Mini-Blog: Compliance

Compliance to some growers seems like it’s an exclusive right, reserved only for the large, nationwide operations with deep wallets. In our business, we’ve heard everything from it’s only for “small package” shipping, to it’s only for “wholesale” growers. But, really, it’s for both!

Compliance is often misunderstood as something that is one or the other when that’s simply not the case. 

As the importance of compliance continues to become more urgent, programs throughout the United States have been developed to help nurseries of each and every size. 

There is perhaps nowhere in this great nation that values the importance of compliance more than the West Coast. Specifically, California. Anyone in the industry can tout for the rigorous legislative initiatives the state has taken to protect their agriculture and garden industries. 

Plant Right

To aid in this initiative, a program was developed in 2005 to help combat the invasive plant species sales in the state of California. The program focused on both the benefits to businesses, as well as the environment. The program is called Plant Right and has an extensive list of allies ranging from American Hort all the way to the Nature Conservancy. 

The impressive relationships that this program has been able to forge speaks to the necessity and value that growers and their community gain from their initiatives. Through both educational and purchasing opportunities, the program provides a comprehensive, compliant approach to invasive plant species throughout the state. 

SANC

Outside of invasive plant species and within all 50 states, there is a great need for compliance for growers. What if, grow locations could certify their operations and practices showing the industry they’re compliant?

This is where a program, called SANC, steps in. 

SANC stands for Systems Approach to Nursery/Greenhouse Stock Certification and was developed through partnerships between more than 20 state agencies and the National Plant Board (NPB). 

The program focuses specifically on the cleanliness of the facility and growing better plants. Through identifying critical points in their operation, growers can better protect areas where pests and hazards have the opportunity to enter their growing locations.

Once the critical points are identified, the growers implement a “Best Management Practice” to reduce their risk and exposures. These efforts target points of entry, shipping locations, and points of production where the plants may be under increased risk.   

The program is currently being tested in 18 different facilities throughout 14 different states. It works for large, small, and even local growers in the U.S. The SANC certification can work for everything from healthier plants locally to shipping plants between states. 

Plant Sentry

While the SANC certification is great and offers a number of ways for growers to increase their compliance efforts, there are still a number of areas of compliance that are still left exposed.   

This is how Plant Sentry came to be. 

Plant Sentry’s development was inspired by SANC and its initiatives but wanted to offer even more comprehensive compliance. And thus Plant Sentry was born!

While SANC focuses on the facility of the plants, Plant Sentry focuses on the plants themselves. The Plant Sentry proprietary database contains a plant’s restrictive information applied to the different states throughout the U.S. and Canada. 

The three main targeted areas of compliance are disease, pests, and invasive plant species. Through our compliance knowledge, we’re able to effectively evaluate your plant selections and advise on the potential risks each of them face. Through consultation services, we offer the extended opportunity to develop your compliance efforts and obtain proper certifications for each plant.

Additionally, emergency response is offered 24/7 to aid in navigating any outbreak or potential risk. Our expert compliance team prioritizes each client’s needs to ensure the best possible outcome for the plants and their growers. 

No matter how you choose to begin your compliance journey, we’re glad you’ve started! As the industry continues to progress, growers are continuing to move towards meeting the market’s sustainable demands. 

Compliance is a sustainable effort. 

As your company considers its compliance journey, we hope to hear from you personally! However, we understand and appreciate that every journey is different. We stand by our suggestions for the other programs mentioned in this article and can only hope that it eventually will lead you to us. So if we don’t hear from you first, we look forward to when we do!

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There’s Something Fruity About Citrus States

There’s Something Fruity About Citrus States

You’re visiting your favorite online nursery, browsing through the citrus trees, when it happens. Suddenly, your eyes catch the most beautiful Meyer lemon tree! You just have to have it!

You’re currently a resident of Florida and citrus is everywhere, you’re tired of being left out, so you add the tree to your cart and proceed to check out.

Suddenly a dark cloud settles over you. The plant is restricted in your area.

But WHY can’t this tree ship to you? You live in Florida and there are citrus trees everywhere, so WHY can’t this tree come live with you? 

You begin to look at where the location of the tree you’re trying to order comes from. Upon closer inspection, you see that it comes from the other sunny state of California. Now you’re very confused. Why can’t I, in Florida, receive a citrus tree from California?

You may not know, but we do!

Two hanging lemons

But First, A History Lesson

The story of citrus and its shipping regulations began long before your attempt to add a variety to your garden. The beauty of citrus fruits has been gracing humanity throughout the world since roughly about 2,500 years ago. 

Originating from Southeast Asia the growth and development of citrus throughout the world has been strongly tied to its status of prominence and health.

In ancient times of Rome, the fruit was linked to both statuses of privilege and religious significance [1]. In addition, many cultures remarked on the miraculous healing properties of the fruits and even in the United States were a huge component of the expansion of the fruit. 

Infographic from the University of Florida on Florida Citrus

Citrus Growth in the Sunshine State

The first citrus fruit to arrive to the “New World” was via Christopher Columbus in 1493. It wouldn’t be until many decades later that citrus would make its way to Florida.

It’s believed in the mid-1500s that Spanish explorer, Ponce de Leon planted the first orange tree in St. Augustine, Florida [2].

The optimal climate of Florida allowed for the success of oranges throughout the state and has resulted in a $9 billion dollar industry. 

Florida now houses roughly 569,000 acres of citrus groves with more than 74 million citrus trees. That’s a lot, I mean, really, A LOT of citrus!

Through the 2018-2019 season, the University of Florida concluded that 9,181,000 cartons of citrus were packed. The economic contribution to the state of Florida was $6.5 billion dollars, with a tax share revenue of $139 million [3]

When it comes to drinking your orange and grapefruit juices, Florida is the state to thank! Unlike California, when it comes to fresh citrus juices, Florida provides the largest amount nationwide. 

Citrus Growth in the Golden State

In other citrus growing states like California, the citrus industry wouldn’t develop until much later. Seriously, much later. 

Almost 200 years after the first orange is planted in Florida, California finally gets its shot. In 1769 Father Junipero Serra planted the first citrus seed in Southern California [4].   

Less than 100 years later, in 1841, William Wolfskill planted the first commercial orchard of California in what is now the center of downtown Los Angeles [5].

Over the next 50 years, the citrus industry of California would rapidly expand. By 1885 the state had 2 million trees growing citrus.

Ten years later that number doubled and the state was growing 4.5 million trees. 

By the 2016-2017 growing season, citrus was valued at $3.389 billion dollars. While the overall economic contribution was $7.1 billion. The state of California’s GDP benefited $1.695 billion from the industry while the estimated wage contributions were $452 million dollars [7].

So next time, you slice up fresh limes, lemons, and oranges thank California! Unlike Florida, California is predominantly responsible for the fresh citrus fruits you buy at the store.

It’s All About the Growth Conditions

Around the world, growers plant and harvest citrus. The success of each plant isn’t determined solely by its genetics, but also by the environmental factors that nurture and stimulate the plant to keep it growing. 

Growing citrus requires ideal growth conditions that can only be found in certain growing regions.

As of 2016, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations found that 79% of the world’s citrus is grown in the Northern Hemisphere. The remaining 21% is grown in the Southern Hemisphere and predominantly comes from Brazil, who is the world’s largest citrus producer [6]

If you were to look at just a map of the locations for each of the regions that grow citrus you would quickly notice a pattern. No matter the country or location in the world, citrus regions are located in coastal regions.

In the U.S. our citrus growing region is known as the “Citrus Belt.” The region stretches along the southern coastal states and provides the ideal conditions for their citrus plantings.

Citrus is very specific to the type of conditions it prefers in order for it to be successful!

These conditions are sandy soil composition and no less than 50% sunshine daily. In addition, the planting location should have excellent soil drainage, and help protect the plants from wind.

several oranges or tangerines on a slate colored table top

Finally, Why You Can’t Ship Citrus From CA to FL

As we depicted at the beginning, it is common for purchasers of citrus plants to become easily confused about why they’re unable to receive a plant, based on where they’re located. With citrus growing in so many states, it only furthers the confusion when someone is told no, to something that grows practically in their own backyard.

But, what many people don’t know is that citrus for many decades has been battling a number of diseases spread specifically by the interstate/intrastate shipping of its plant.

Whether it’s a tree or a seed, the different parts of the citrus plants that have traveled are also the same pieces that threaten other citrus plants and their survial.

Currently, there are four different diseases that are widely regulated between states and countries to protect citrus plants. They are Huanglongbing or citrus greening, citrus canker, citrus black spot, and sweet orange scab.

Each of these diseases is different, but each of them also has the potential to wipe out citrus growth in the United States. 

This very threat to the citrus industry and the livelihoods of those who produce them has resulted in strict legislation passed both on federal and state levels to preserve the citrus industry. 

The legislation and regulatory efforts are made in hopes to prevent the spread of diseases through quarantine, inspection, and eradication efforts. Each of the listed diseases leaves the fruits either susceptible to different forms of stunting or to poor fruit quality resulting in it being unmarketable.  

As we’ve learned in recent months with the spread of COVID-19, diseases have the potential to spread rapidly, and unknowingly.

These dangerous factors are why it is so important to keep citrus trees in safe spaces!

The USDA advises that if you’re growing citrus at home it is best to keep the fruit and plants at home away from potential diseases, and away from healthy plants in case yours unknowingly has a disease.

Another important consumer request from the USDA is to acknowledge the quarantined counties and areas throughout the country where citrus diseases are being isolated [8]. Don’t try to move fruit or plants from infested/infected areas and know that it’s for the good of the fruit.


How You Can Help

These citrus diseases are a stark reminder of the power of contamination and just how easy it can occur. These diseases were spread mostly by unchecked, unregulated plants throughout history. Now decades later, a number of people are threatened by the loss of citrus.

How can you help?  

When ordering citrus online or in person, remember to buy from distributors and growers who are compliant within their regulations.

How will you know if they’re compliant? Compliant growers and distributors will have no problem discussing with you the safety precautions followed and the certifications that the plants adhered to, in order to be sold. 

In addition to asking about their compliance efforts, take the time to learn about your local quarantine regulations. Knowing whether or not your county is under quarantine for citrus can help you prevent the spread of disease.

Another great way? 
Ask if they used Plant Sentry!

We pride ourselves on our compliance and regulatory efforts throughout the industry.

While we work with a number of clients who grow and sell citrus, we, unfortunately, don’t cover everyone in the industry. Be sure to ask the next time you purchase a lemon tree or other citrus varieties if they were checked using Plant Sentry



Citations:

[1] Holland, B. (2017, July 31). How Citrus Fruits Became an Ancient Status Symbol. Retrieved August 28, 2020, from https://www.history.com/news/how-citrus-fruits-became-an-ancient-status-symbol

[2] Facts About Florida Oranges & Citrus. (n.d.). Retrieved August 28, 2020, from https://www.visitflorida.com/en-us/eat-drink/facts-about-florida-citrus-oranges.html

[3] Economic Contributions of the Florida Citrus Industry in 2018-19. (2020, August 18). Retrieved August 28, 2020, from https://www.floridacitrus.org/newsroom/news/economic-contributions-of-the-florida-citrus-industry-in-2018-19/

[4] Lee, S. (n.d.). The history of citrus in California. Retrieved August 28, 2020, from http://www.californiabountiful.com/features/article.aspx?arID=695

[5] Geisseler, D., & Horwath, W. R. (2016, June). Citrus Production in California [PDF]. California Department of Food and Agriculture Fertilizer Research and Education Program. https://apps1.cdfa.ca.gov/FertilizerResearch/docs/Citrus_Production_CA.pdf

[6] Citrus Fruit Fresh and Processed Statistical Bulletin 2016. (2016). Retrieved 2020, from http://www.fao.org/3/a-i8092e.pdf

[7] Babcock, B. A. (n.d.). Economic Impact of California’s Citrus Industry. Retrieved 2020, from https://citrusresearch.org/wp-content/uploads/Economic-Contribution-of-California-Citrus-Industry21.pdf

[8] Yigzaw, P., Runciman, D., Gateley, D., Burchard, J., C., D., Trees, O., . . . Eldridge, M. (2020, August 12). Citrus Trees: Move It AND Lose It. Retrieved August 28, 2020, from https://www.usda.gov/media/blog/2014/08/25/citrus-trees-move-it-and-lose-it

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Why You’re Seeing So Many Japanese Beetles In 2020

Why You’re Seeing So Many Japanese Beetles In 2020

Have you ever wondered why there are many Japanese beetles one year, but not the next? 2020 has been a wild ride so far, but not to be outdone, the Japanese beetle population has also seen an uptick in cases.

In our previous blog about Japanese beetles, we covered just how extensive the damage from these pests can be, as well as their lifecycle. But, what we didn’t tell you, was how you can prepare from year to year to drive down their population.

Overpopulating Your Plants

Before we get too far ahead of ourselves in finding the solution, let’s take a brief moment to refresh our memories of how these pests work and their optimal habitat conditions.

Japanese beetles (Popillia japonica) take a liking to over 300 different ornamental and agricultural plant species. They’re primarily active as adults between the times of June 1st until September 30th. When the pest isn’t enjoying their flight season, they are underground in the larval stage for a 10 month period. 

The habitat conditions that are considered favorable for these pests for them to optimally grow is in wet/moist soil conditions. These conditions prevent the larvae from drying out. The moist soil also keeps many of the plants that the grubs prefer thriving through the changing seasons so that they may feed on the roots of the plants.

During their flight period, the beetles can fly within a 5-mile radius allowing them to mate and reproduce in different environments that suit their needs. While 5 miles may not seem like a lot, it is still enough distance for them to find new plants to destroy and new soils to infiltrate.

Somebody Stop ‘Em!

Understanding how the Japanese beetle works is an important part of defining the solutions to the pest. Whether it’s their expansive plant palate or their underground developmental phases, one thing is for certain, if left unchecked, the Japanese beetle could change the availability of the plants in the United States. 

This spring the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Field Agronomists reported a higher count of grubs throughout the state of Iowa. [1] But, they weren’t the only ones! States that are commonly affected by this pest, such as, Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Arkansas, and Oklahoma also noticed an increase in the number of Japanese beetles throughout their states. 

Despite growers best efforts, the Japanese beetle continues to present challenges in successful eradication from the United States. How is it that despite the best Integrated Pest Management plans, these beetles continue to rear their ugly heads year after year? 

Determining the amount of a pest from year to year can be challenging for plant owners and growers alike. But, the answer may be slightly easier than expected.

Resolving the Problem

Like any organism on our planet, the Japanese beetle’s population is affected by the environmental and biological conditions of its habitats. This means that everything from how much rain falls within the seasons, to how many predators are present will affect the size of the Japanese beetle population. 

Taking note of these factors and accounting them into our solutions will ultimately provide the most effective and expansive practices to remove the pests. Scientists and growers have already lifted a tremendous amount of the leg work to identify solutions in combating the growing beetle population.

In considering the environmental controls that can be implemented in order to fight the Japanese beetle there are a few different options to be considered.

The first is evaluating the environmental factors that are most reasonably out of your control, such as, how dry the soil naturally is. Since Japanese beetles prefer wet/moist soil conditions it would be unreasonable to think you could control the amount of rain that falls and affects your soil moisture.

 However, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to evaluate how much water you use within seasons that grubs underground may benefit from. How much water that is retained in your soil will impact the grub/larvae habitat.

In addition, taking early note of dead patches of grass may indicate the presence of grubs in your soil and is recommended to treat the soil directly, but not always effective to treat for the grubs. With whatever grass treatment method you use, be sure to check with how this may affect your underground water supply.

The next solution to preventing an abundant Japanese beetle season is still within environmental controls. This time, however, the solution focuses on the types of plants that are grown, and their resistance to the beetle. If at all possible, consider rotating crops and planting plants that aren’t favored by the beetle, or are naturally resistant to it

USDA APHIS recommends these top 20 Woody Plants as Japanese beetle resistant options [3]:

1. Red maple Acer rubrum 

2. Boxwood Buxus spp. 

3. Hickory Carya spp. 

4. Redbud Cercis spp. 

5. Tulip poplar Liriodendron tulipifera 

6. Dogwood Cornus spp. 

7. Burning-bush Euonymus spp. 

8. Forsythia Forsythia spp. 

9. Ash Fraxinus spp. 

10. Holly Ilex spp. 

11. Juniper Juniperus spp. 

12. Sweetgum Liquidambar styraciflua 

13. Magnolia Magnolia spp. 

14. Spruce Picea spp. 

15. Pine Pinus spp. 

16. Northern red oak Quercus rubrum 

17. Lilac Syringa spp. 

18. Yew Taxus spp. 

19. Arborvitae Thuja spp. 

20. Hemlock Tsuga spp.

They also recommend these 20 Herbaceous Plants as resistant against the Japanese Beetle [3]:

1. Ageratum Ageratum spp. 

2. Columbine Aquilegia spp. 

3. Dusty-miller Centaurea cineraria, Lychnis coronaria 

4. Begonia Begonia spp. 

5. Lily-of-the-valley Convallaria majalis 

6. Coreopsis Coreopsis spp. 

7. Larkspur Delphinium spp. 

8. Foxglove Digitalis spp. 

9. California poppy Eschscholzia californica 

10. Coral-bells Heuchera sanguinea 

11. Hosta Hosta spp. 

12. Impatiens Impatiens spp. 

13. Lantana Lantana camara 

14. Forget-me-not Myosotis spp. 

15. Pachysandra Pachysandra spp. 

16. Poppy Papaver spp. 

17. Moss-rose Portulaca grandiflora 

18. Showy sedum Sedum spectabile 

19. Nasturtium Tropaeolum majus 

20. Violet, pansy Viola spp.

By considering one of the selections above, your environment is automatically designed to have some degree of resistance against the pest and provide better habitation for other species. 

The next factor to consider in battling a Japanese beetle infestation is predatory methods. Part of the success of the Japanese beetle in the United States is that its initial presence didn’t have a predatory species. Due to the natural biological lag in evolution and predation, species identification that would be combative against the pest has taken some time and serious amounts of patience.

In the current day and age of science, predatory approaches to control the pest have been identified favored in hopes to eliminate the use of chemical pesticides, as well as hoping for increased effectiveness. 

There are two types of predators of the beetle that are most commonly used for pest management. The first is the tachinid fly[2]. This insect can be attracted by growing plants that the insect favors, or by directly introducing the species into your environment. The pest targets adult beetles, spiders, larvae, grasshoppers, earwigs, caterpillars, sawfly larvae, true bugs, and Japanese beetles. 

The second predatory organism to consider is two types of insect-eating nematodes. The two nematodes that have been noted by the USDA APHIS team as most effective against the Japanese beetle are Steinernema glaseri and Heterorhabditis bacteriophora. The nematodes are roundworm parasites that eat the Japanese beetle grubs, removing them from your soil.

The challenge with using nematodes is that depending on where you send your plants as a grower, there are different restrictions against nematodes in plants. 

Whether through the predatory methodology or through environmental efforts against the insects, there are a number of ways to combat the Japanese beetle. Through the continued efforts of growers and scientists, control and eradication of the pests ARE possible. 

Taking the Steps to Eliminate the Problem

Part of the struggle of the Japanese beetle is being able to predict the considerable amount of variables that have made the pest such a success within their environments. The challenge that we face as growers and plant owners is to remain consistent and innovative in our efforts against the species. 

While change doesn’t occur overnight, and evolution can take time to naturally combat this invasive species, it is our responsibility to take as many necessary avenues as possible to control and eliminate the species from our lands. 

Our efforts cannot be limited to only chemical resolve, but also in biological resolutions. The impact that this pest has against our food and our habitats, is the compassionate consideration we need to make in our treatment efforts. The direct relationship from the environment that we create and the number of Japanese beetles we see are undeniable. But, it is not always an option to simply plant something else. Through our efforts we can reclaim our plants for us, and remove the Japanese beetle from the equation.

To learn more about threats to the industry and first notifications of our latest blogs, be sure to signup for our e-mails!



Citations:

[1] Author:  Erin Hodgson Professor Dr. Erin Hodgson started working in the Department of Entomology at Iowa State University in 2009. She is an associate professor with. (n.d.). Watch for Japanese Beetle Emergence. Retrieved August 17, 2020, from https://crops.extension.iastate.edu/cropnews/2020/06/watch-japanese-beetle-emergence

[2] Japanese Beetles and Natural Enemies. (n.d.). Retrieved August 17, 2020, from https://extension.umd.edu/ipm/japanese-beetles-and-natural-enemies

[3]Japanese Beetle. (n.d.). Retrieved August 17, 2020, from https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/planthealth/plant-pest-and-disease-programs/pests-and-diseases/japanese-beetle/japanese-beetle