To prevent the bug that ruined Florida's citrus industry from taking hold in California’s South San Luis Obispo County, Bee Sweet Citrus plans to build a facility that could wash and wax harvested citrus before it's transported farther south.
The 14,900-sqft facility was part of the South County Advisory Council's consent agenda on January 28, and the council recommended that the Board of Supervisors approve the project.
Bee Sweet would use 125 to 250 gallons of water per day to remove leaves and material from citrus that could host the Asian citrus psyllid, a bug that could carry citrus greening disease. The disease destroyed 24 percent of Florida's citrus production at a loss of $344 million.
The entire county is proactively on quarantine with no end in sight, and the California Citrus Research Board has spent 75 percent of its research funding on finding a solution, according to Bee Sweet Vice President Keith Watkins: “Until we have a solution for the disease, the quarantine will be there."
Watkins said workers will also wax and sort the fruit, and Bee Sweet Citrus is open to contract their services to other growers in the county.
Citrus greening disease has not been found in San Luis Obispo County, but growers are on edge as Asian citrus psyllids have been found in residential neighborhoods, indicating that the bug has been brought up by travelers who bring back produce from growers with the bug, Lea said.