Blood orange growers in the southern Chinese city of Lianjiang have long ditched chemical fertilizers. Though ditching chemicals caters to the growing appetite for organic foods, it was not the farmers’ original intention. They did so to help their groves survive “the yellow dragon,” a deadly disease threatening citrus groves in Asia, Africa and America. In China, the disease, also known as Huanglongbing, wreaks havoc in more than 10 citrus-growing regions…Full Article: Xinhua Feb 2018

Key Point

  • In 1993 and 2007, blood orange orchards (~5,000 ha) in Lianjiang, Guangdong Province, were severely damaged by Huanglongbing (HLB, aka citrus greening). As a result, farmers began taking preventative measures including inspecting orchards during the peak infection period (i.e. September to December). In addition, some farmers switched to organic fertilizers since the use of chemical fertilizers made leaves larger and more attractive to disease carrying psyllids.

ChinaAg Comments

  • Citrus greening disease, aka Huanglongbing (HLB) or “Yellow Dragon Disease” (HLB), is caused by the bacteria Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus (CLas) and is spread by Asian citrus psyllid (Diaphorina citri). HLB stunts the growth of infected trees and causes its fruit to be misshapen and have thick peels. HLB infected fruit generally has a bitter taste. Citrus is a major cash crop in southern China, with production scattered along and south of the Yangtze River valley.
  • As of 2015, Guangdong and Jiangxi were China’s leading mandarin/tangerine producers. Orange production was centered around the provinces of Hunan, Guangxi, and Jiangxi, while grapefruit/pomelo production primarily occurred in Fujian Province. Sichuan Province dominated lemon production, with 80% of Chinese lemons being cultivated in Anyue County, Sichuan. In general, approximately 80% of the citrus fruits in China mature from late October to the end of December.
  • In April 2015, Asian Citrus announced that an outbreak of Huanglongbing (HLB, aka citrus greening) was detected in its Xinfeng Plantation. As a result, it’s 2015 winter harvest will likely decline. Registered in Bermuda, Asian Citrus is the largest orange plantation owner and operator in China. At the time, it owned and operated two orange plantations: the Hepu Plantation in Hepu County in the Guangxi Region, occupying approximately 30.9 sq. km (~1.3 million trees), and the Xinfeng Plantation in Xinfeng County in Jiangxi Province, occupying approximately 37.1 (~1.6 million trees). The plantations were located in similar latitudes to that of Florida (USA), which is well known for growing oranges. The company cultivates and sells two types of oranges: winter (the varieties grown being Navel, Hamlin, Pineapple and Hong Jiang) and summer (principally Valencia).
  • In January 2015, China’s orange production was forecasted to decline by 10% to 6.9 million due to Huanglongbing (HLB, aka citrus greening). In addition, China was forecasted to produce 18.5 million MTs of mandarins/tangerines, 3.9 million MTs of grapefruit/pomelos, and 430,000 MTs of lemons during the 2014 to 2015 season. Mandarins/tangerines were cultivated on an estimated 820,000 ha (a 2% year-on-year), while oranges were grown on 780,000 ha (slight year-on-year decline) of land.
  • In December 2014, Peruvian citrus exports was granted easier access to China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ).
  • In August 2014, China lifted its ban on Californian citrus.
  • In February 2014, Asian Citrus canceled an expected dividend in order to finance extra fertilizer and agrichemical applications on its orchards after the initial applications were washed away by heavy rainfall.
  • In April 2013, Chinese authorities abruptly banned Californian citrus imports over the detection of Phytophthora syringae or brown rot in shipments.
  • In February 2013, Chinese authorities notified the USA that it detected brown rot in six containers out of 250, but did not provide any follow-up announcement until mid-April 2013.
  • In 2012, China produced 13.7 million MTs of mandarins/tangerines, 6.6 million MTs of oranges, 3.8 million MTs of grapefruit/pomelos, 2.3 million MTs of lemons/limes, and 5.5 million MTs of other citrus fruit.
  • In 2011, Hunan province produced 4.2 million MTs of citrus or approximately 14% of China’s total citrus output. Guangdong and Jiangxi provinces produced 3.7 million MTs (13% of China’s output) and 3.5 million MTs (12% of China’s output), respectively. Other regional citrus producers of note include Guangxi (3.5 million MTs or 12%), Hubei (3.3 million MTs or 11%), Sichuan (3.1 million MTs or 11%), and Fujian (3 million MTs or 10%).
  • As of mid-2009, Huanglongbing (HLB) had reached the provinces of Guangdong, Fujian, Yunnan, Zhejiang, Jiangxi, Hunan, Guizhou, Sichuan, as well as Guangxi Region.
  • In 2006, according to Citrus Australia, China granted export approval for Australian citrus. In November 2017, China amended its import requirements for Australian citrus imports that included modifications to the cold disinfestation temperature, and recognizing the Riverland region, South Australia, as fruit fly free.
  • In September 2005, the Asian strain (CLas) of Huanglongbing (HLB) was detected in Florida, USA.
  • In 2004, the Asian strain (CLas) of Huanglongbing (HLB) was detected in São Paulo, Brazil.
  • Since the early 2000s, Huanglongbing (HLB) has migrated northward to the provinces of Zhejiang, Hunan and Jiangxi.
  • In 1934, the Guangdong cities of Guangzhou, Shantou, Jiangmen, and Gongbei all reported significant declines in citrus exports.
  • During the 1870s, the first case of citrus greening disease, aka Huanglongbing (HLB), was reported in in Chaoshan, eastern Guangdong Province.

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