"Don’t Go Green" This Holiday Season
Greening Disease (HLB) Prevention and Safe Gifting
Citrus greening disease, also known as Huanglongbing (HLB) is one of the most severe plant diseases in the world. It can affect any variety of citrus trees. Once a tree is infected with the disease, there is no known cure. Although the disease is not harmful to humans, fruits from infected trees are not suitable for consumption because of their green color, misshapen appearance and bitter taste. The disease has devastated millions of citrus trees in the United States.
Learn, Check, Report
- LEARN about the diseases. Citrus greening is spread by a bug the size of the head of a pin—the Asian citrus psyllid. When the bug feeds on an infected tree, it becomes a carrier, spreading the disease from one tree to another. Citrus greening can also spread from place to place when infected citrus, trees, clippings or equipment are moved from one place to another.
- CHECK citrus plants regularly for signs of disease. Symptoms of the disease include yellow mottling of the leaves, lopsided fruit and excessive fruit drop. Psyllids and eggs are typically found on new shoots. Review symptoms.
- REPORT suspicious symptoms through the website or by using the free Save Our Citrus iPhone App available for download from the iTunes store. Residents can also call the California Department of Food and Agriculture hotline 800-491-1899.
Citrus trees and fruit make great holiday presents when gifted smart. Before you give citrus, there are four things you should know:
- Be Aware of Quarantines. After Asian citrus psyllid discoveries in southern California, quarantines have been established in Imperial, Los Angeles, Orange and Ventura counties, as well as parts of Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, and Santa Barbara counties. If you are thinking about giving citrus fruit, plants or items made with citrus (such as floral arrangements, wreaths, potpourri or seasonings like kaffir lime leaves) be sure not to move them from quarantined areas. Not only are you risking spreading citrus diseases by transporting citrus outside of these areas, but it's also against the law.
- Check Citrus Plant Suppliers. Be a savvy buyer. Only buy citrus plants from a reputable, licensed California nursery. Follow instructions on the tag regarding the Asian citrus psyllid or HLB.
- Keep Homegrown Citrus at Home. Help reduce the spread of citrus diseases by not moving your homegrown citrus fruit or plants from quarantine areas.
- Avoid Fines and Penalties. If you knowingly purchase citrus in violation of quarantine regulations and requirements, the penalties could range from $1,100 to $60,000 per violation. If you suspect citrus is being moved improperly, report your concerns to your USDA State Plant Health Director's office; you can find contact information online at www.aphis.usda.gov/StateOffices.