RIVERSIDE, Calif. — John Gless knew at a very young age that this is where he belongs.
“I loved going out with my dad and my grandpa and riding on tractors. I just had a passion for it right away,” said Gless, Southern California Farm Manager at Gless Ranch.
Gless followed in his dad and grandfather’s footsteps in being part of the family business of running and growing Gless Ranch. He says doesn’t consider it work, but the last couple years have been challenging.
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“You look for insects that can hang out on the fruit on the leaves,” he said.
Gless is looking for any signs of Asian Citrus Psyllid.
It’s a bug invading the citrus industry which produces more than a billion dollars annually. The insects latch onto citrus trees and carries the huanglongbing disease -- known as "HLB."
It has ruined farms in Florida and is sweeping through Texas.
“They had some problems like citrus canker and some other things," said Gless. "They let the psyllid get away out of hand focusing on the other things and not thinking it was that big of a deal. While they did that, it just wiped out literally the entire state is infected now.”
The state was split into quarantine zones to prevent the fast spread of HLB.
Farmers and backyard growers were asked to not transport their fruit and leaves outside of their assigned zones.
“When there are growers that leave those boundaries, or baggers or whatever you want to call them, you’re moving essentially infected plant material or infected psyllid to non-infected areas which is essentially going to expand the quarantine,” Gless said.
He says none of the Gless family’s trees have been infected and they haven’t been assigned to a quarantine zone. But Gless Ranch is taking safety precautions in protecting their trees and livelihood.
His family has joined a pest control district to help educate other citrus farmers and backyard growers in the area in hopes to slow down the spread of HLB and give researchers time to find a cure, so ranchers like the Gless Family can continue to provide citrus for the state and country.