A pest that kills citrus trees has been spotted in Sacramento County, prompting state agricultural officials to add Sacramento to a growing list of quarantined counties in California.
The Asian Citrus Psyllid is no bigger than a grain of rice but carries the disease Huanglongbing (HLB), also known as citrus greening disease, according to the California Department of Food and Agriculture. The infection is not harmful to humans, but the disease kills citrus trees and does not have a cure.
All citrus trees — including lemon, orange, mandarin, kumquats, pomelos, limes and related plants such as curry leaf trees — are all susceptible to the disease. Asian Citrus Psyllid quarantines are now extended to 28 counties across California.
“The diseased tree will decline in health, produce bitter, misshapen fruit, and eventually die,” the CDFA wrote in a press release.
If you own a citrus tree, you are urged to consider the following steps recommended by the CDFA to prevent the spread of the disease:
- Inspect trees for both the bug and symptoms of HLB during monthly watering, spraying or pruning. Pysllids are most noticeable when new leaves are growing on the tips of branches
- Visit a local nursery for advice on products that can help protect your citrus tree from pests
- Do not remove citrus plants, foliage, cuttings, or fruit from your area. This may spread the pest and the disease.
- Please allow agricultural crews to access your property to help find and stop the disease.
- Dry out citrus tree clippings or double bag them before removing them from your property.
- When grafting trees, only use registered budwood with accompanying source documentation.
Although, state agriculture officials say HLB has not yet been detected in Northern California. The disease has been found in more than 1,100 backyard citrus trees in Los Angeles, Orange, and Riverside counties, according to the CDFA.
The quarantine issued by the CDFA makes it illegal to move citrus trees and plant material out of the area. It is also illegal to bring citrus fruit or plant material into the area from other states or countries.
The best way to manage the disease is to manage the spread of the Asian Citrus Psyllid, agriculture officials say.
If you believe you may have seen the Asian Citrus Psyllid or if you citrus trees have symptoms of HLB, you are urged to contact the CDFA’s pest hotline at 1-800-491-1899. For those in Sacramento County, you may contact the Sacramento County Agricultural Commissioner’s office at 916-875-6603.
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