Orange and apple growers are battling two major scourges that threaten their crops: citrus greening, a bacterial disease spread by tiny insects called psyllids, and fire blight, a contagious disease that attacks apple and pear trees.
But, while these dangers indiscriminately affect both conventional and organic farmers, organic farmers have an extra worry. Aggressive state agricultural authorities want them to apply chemical pesticides and herbicides to eradicate the problems before they reach epidemic proportions.
This solution, if adopted widely, could virtually wipe out all organic production of oranges and apples in states as large as Florida and California. Vast tracts of acreage would be rendered unusable for several years, at minimum.
At Expo East, a three-person panel—Matt McLean, CEO of Uncle Matt’s Organic, Jeff Steen, a Porterville, CA apple grower, and David Granatstein, sustainable agriculture specialist with Washington State University Extension—explored the issue in detail and stressed the organic industry’s desire for time to try approaches approved by the National Organic Standards Board for ridding their groves and orchards of these two major threats.
Published in WholeFoods Magazine, November 2013 (online 10/18/13)