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Patch Blog: Help Save Our Citrus Trees

There's an incurable citrus disease in LA County. What does this mean for the average person?

When the Spaniards founded Mission San Gabriel, they brought oranges with them. It turned out that Southern Californian conditions help citrus reach peak flavor.

Though largely languishing under concrete, asphalt and lawns now, beneath our feet is one of the most perfect citrus growing areas in the world. A walk around town shows a number of homes in our city that boast beautiful citrus trees. Taste an orange grown here, and you'll likely taste an orange that puts even the choicest supermarket produce to shame.

Citrus trees are relatively easy care here but The California Dept. of Forest and Agriculture (CDFA) just announced that huanglongbing (HLB or Citrus Greening Disease) has been spotted and confirmed in Hacienda Heights.

It is carried by an exotic pest called the Asian citrus psyllid (ACP). While ACP had been spotted in LA County in the previous couple years, we had managed to escape HLB up to this point.

So what's the big deal about Citrus Greening Disease?

HLB destroys the appearance of the fruit as well as the taste. Eventually, it kills the tree. This is bad news for states like Florida, Texas and California that have large citrus growing industries.

California's citrus growing industry brings in nearly $2 billion annually. HLB has been in Florida since 2005 and the University of Florida estimates it has resulted in more than 6,600 lost jobs, $1.3 billion in lost revenue to growers and $3.6 billion in lost economic activity in the state. A threat like this would always be serious but on top of our current economic situation it would be disastrous.

Have you ever crossed the state border or gone through customs without declaring plants, fruits or vegetables, because you figured such things were harmless? Well, the harm that smuggling plant materials into our state can do is very real.

Citizens, particularly home growers, can make a crucial difference in quarantining this disease to as small an area of our state as possible in the hopes we can eradicate it. CDFA has announced a quarantine that will restrict the movement of citrus trees, citrus plant parts, green waste and all citrus fruit except what is commercially cleaned and packed.

Do not remove or share citrus fruit, trees, clippings/grafts or related plant material. You may still eat fruit from your own trees on site. This is tremendously inconvenient and a blow to home gardeners and produce sharing groups. However, it would be far more inconvenient in the long run were this disease to take hold in our state. Not only would there be many lost jobs and much lost revenue, you might have a hard time ever growing citrus without HLB ruining it.

And so our land will go from being one of the most perfect citrus-growing areas in the world to a citrus wasteland. Don't let it happen! Observe the quarantine. Check your own plants and report any sign of Asian citrus psyllid or HLB to the CA Dept of Forestry and Agriculture.

For more information and to see what ACP and HLB look like, click HERE. 

And see the attached video for tips. 

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Megan Lynch April 15, 2012 at 02:34 AM
Here's another good blog post also recommending strict adherence to guidelines whether you're in the quarantine zone or not: http://athinkingstomach.blogspot.com/2012/04/california-without-citrus.html
Kristen Lepore April 16, 2012 at 06:04 PM
More info from Highland Park-Mt. Washington Patch: http://patch.com/A-s2ff
Kristen Lepore April 18, 2012 at 09:30 PM
Citrus Disease Found In Altadena Trees: http://patch.com/A-s6ry
Kristen Lepore April 18, 2012 at 09:59 PM
Correction: The diseased tree was not found in Altadena but rather Hacienda Heights. http://patch.com/A-s6ry
Megan Lynch April 26, 2012 at 07:43 AM
An expert on HLB (Citrus Greening) spoke to the San Diego chapter of CA Rare Fruit Growers. People have been asking me for more detailed information about this disease. This presentation helps lay out how serious this is. It's not concise, but it's definitely of interest to home growers of citrus. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MwpsJqUA3vk "A huanglongbing, HLB, presentation given by Dr. Allan Dodds to the North County San Diego CRFG chapter on April 20, 2012. Very relevant since HLB was recently found in the state for the first time in Hacienda Heights, CA. "

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