alifornia’s citrus industry has welcomed new that China is set to re-open its market to the state's fruit, subject to implementation of a new protocol.
A major destination for California oranges, China abruptly closed its doors to the state's citrus over a year ago citing incidences of decayed fruit on arrival.
The USDA's Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has been working with its Chinese counterparts to come up with a protocol that would address the alleged problems. The new protocol involves trimming of tree "skirts" sufficiently above the orchard floor as well as a regimen of spraying to minimise the incidence of phytopthora syringae, commonly known as "brown rot" in oranges.
Once in place, the programme will run for two years with an efficacy review between the end of the 2014/15 season and before the start of the following campaign.
"Our industry has been working for sometime with the USDA to get this protocol hammered out," said California citrus industry veteran Tom Wollenman. "The Chinese inspectors are due to be here fairly soon to look at everything the need to see but we've already got much of what the protocol is calling for in place with our programme for South Korea."
Wollenman doesn't expect much - if any - volume of navels to be exported to China during the current season as the harvest is all but finished for the year. However, valencia oranges, which are now at the mid-point of their season and will continue to be picked for another several months, could be exported to China once the protocol is in place.