News of citrus greening in Florida is in the headlines. Citrus greening has spread all throughout Florida, causing thousands of lost jobs and billions of dollars in damage. The citrus trees in Florida that are not already dead from this disease are mostly infected and dying. Citrus greening is believed to have arrived in Florida via an infected citrus cutting smuggled from Asia. Now that the disease is firmly established in Florida, it threatens all other citrus states. Here in California, the Asian citrus psyllid (ACP), the insect that spreads the disease, has been spreading; thankfully our local population has been testing negative for the disease. As a citrus lover I have been horrified by all of this news. Now that California has the ACP, all it would take is a graft of an infected citrus cutting from Florida to cause the same devastation here. In this article I share how I am fighting back against this disease and steps that you can take to join the fight. I hope that you will be as excited as I am to take action against citrus greening.
I have been grafting citrus successfully for quite a while, but I have become concerned that stale information on the internet regarding citrus grafting could lead to the spread of citrus greening. I grafted more than thirty kinds of citrus to a navel orange tree at my house in northern California. I owe my success to a grafting tutorial that I found by searching the internet. Joe Real, another citrus lover from northern California, famously grafted a tree at his house with more than a hundred varieties of citrus. Joe posted detailed instructions and photos of how he achieved his success to a 90s-era members-only internet message board and I managed to find it. I shared my success and the link to the tutorial with my local California Rare Fruit Growers (CRFG) chapter.
Early this year a couple of the CRFG members from my chapter emailed me to point out that this grafting tutorial that I had previously sent out was no longer available. I googled the term “grafting citrus” to see what alternatives might be available and became quite alarmed at what I found.
It turns out that the google search results for “grafting citrus” are conducive to the spread of citrus greening from Florida to other citrus states such as California, Texas, and Arizona. The articles, youtube videos, etc. that appear in the search results are all stale, remnants of an era before citrus greening was a threat. Much of the content is more than ten years old and makes no mention of the use of disease-free citrus cuttings or the risk of bringing citrus greening from Florida to other citrus states. Although Californians who are knowledgeable about citrus have abandoned the practice of using home-grown citrus cuttings for grafting, many of them have not bothered to update their websites to mention citrus greening and to tell visitors how to order disease-free cuttings. Many websites still have stale information on how to collect backyard cuttings. The top three youtube videos currently at the top of the “grafting citrus” search results are actually very poor as far as grafting tutorials go and they show people grafting with backyard cuttings.
As of today it is easy to imagine that someone might take a citrus cutting from Florida, fly it to California, google “citrus grafting”, watch a youtube video, and graft a scion that could cause billions of dollars of damage, all without even knowing the potential danger. As a computer engineer I tend to view computers as solutions to problems, but in this case they may currently be enabling the unwitting spread of citrus greening. As any engineer, I love to solve important problems and I decided to tackle this one. Embedded in this article you will find my first two youtube videos designed to solve this problem. The first shows how to graft citrus using bark grafting. It is based upon Joe Real's tutorial, but it also includes a couple of enhancements that I learned elsewhere; furthermore, it includes clear instructions regarding the use of disease-free citrus cuttings. The second video guides the viewer through the process of setting up an account with the Citrus Clonal Protection Program (CCPP) and ordering disease-free citrus cuttings.
Based upon my understanding of how google and youtube rankings work, the mere act of viewing these videos should help them to climb to the top of the search results. Giving them a “thumbs up” rating, sharing them on social media, and subscribing to the youtube channel should further speed their climb. If you have any questions regarding the videos, please ask them in the youtube comments and I will answer there; I understand that this would help the rankings as well. Once at the top of the search rankings, these videos will not only help to avoid the unwitting spread of citrus greening, but they will also help new people to grow delicious and rare citrus varieties not to be found in stores.
Please take action to prevent the spread of citrus greening by sharing both this article and also the youtube videos. If you happen to have a website with stale material, please remove the stale material and replace it with something appropriate to the situation we are facing in 2014. Please feel free to link to this website and the youtube videos; also please feel free to embed the youtube videos. If there is anything that I can do to help, please let me know. My dream is to see citrus greening stopped; thank you for helping!
I currently have three more citrus grafting videos in the works. Please feel free to subscribe to my email list below and I will send you an email when they are available.
Thank you to Georgios Vidalakis and Rock Christiano for their help and feedback on the videos. Thank you to Joe Real for teaching the bark grafting technique.