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The Citrus Pest and Disease Prevention Program Warns Homeowners to Inspect Their Citrus for a Dangerous Pest

VISALIA, CALIF. – Oct. 27, 2010 – As a dangerous pest makes its way through California, threatening the ability of homeowners to grow citrus in their backyards, the Citrus Pest and Disease Prevention Program is educating homeowners on what they can do to protect their citrus.

The pest is called the Asian citrus psyllid and it is confirmed to be in Imperial, San Diego, Orange and Los Angeles counties, sparking quarantines in those areas. The pest can be a carrier of a fatal tree disease, called Huanglongbing, also known as HLB or citrus greening disease. While not harmful to human health, HLB destroys the taste of citrus fruit and juice, along with the production, appearance and value of citrus trees. Once a tree is infected with the disease, there is no cure and the tree will eventually die.

While the psyllids in California have not been found to be carrying the disease, the Citrus Pest and Disease Prevention Program is reminding homeowners that we all play a critical role in keeping the disease out of California.

“The best way to protect California citrus is to inspect for the pest,” said Ted Batkin, president of the California Citrus Research Board, a participant in the Citrus Pest and Disease Prevention Program. “We want to encourage homeowners to do their part before it’s too late.”

The Citrus Pest and Disease Prevention Program offers the following tips to homeowners:

  • Inspect your citrus trees each month or whenever watering, spraying, pruning or tending trees. It is especially important to inspect during active growth or flushing.

  • Plant only California-grown, certified trees that are known to be free of the disease.

  • Do not move plants out of the quarantined area, because they might be carrying psyllids.

  • Dry out plant clippings for two weeks before putting them in green waste recycle bins or double bag clippings to avoid moving psyllids.

All detections of the psyllids in Southern California trees have been in residential citrus. For more information and to find out what to look for, visit http://peligrancitricosencalifornia.com. If you think you have found a psyllid, act fast. Time is critical. Call the California Department of Food and Agriculture hotline at 800/491-1899.

The pest and the disease have already caused devastation in Asia, India, parts of the Middle East, and South and Central America. The pest and the disease have been found domestically in Louisiana, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. In Florida, the psyllid and HLB are ravaging the citrus industry. The insect pest, in the absence of disease, is also in Hawaii, Texas, California, American Samoa and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Contact:
Katie Rowland
Nuffer Smith Tucker
619/296-0605, ext. 254
kr@nstpr.com

 
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