CALIFORNIA CITRUS OWNERS ENCOURAGED TO SPRING BACK INTO THE GARDEN DURING NATIONAL GARDEN MONTH
Residents Should Continue Tree Care to Keep Citrus Trees Healthy and Disease Free
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – April 5, 2022 – Following a gardening boom during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important for backyard citrus owners to continue to care for their citrus trees during National Garden Month this April and beyond, as a lack of maintenance could be an invitation for a deadly plant disease called Huanglongbing (HLB).
The National Gardening Association found that the COVID-19 pandemic sparked 18.3 million new gardeners across the United States. During National Garden Month, the Citrus Pest and Disease Prevention Program is encouraging backyard citrus growers to recommit themselves to their gardens with tips to protect their citrus trees from pests and diseases.
One of the biggest disease threats to California citrus is HLB, which can be spread by a pest called the Asian citrus psyllid (ACP) as it feeds on the leaves of citrus trees. Both the pest and disease have been found in the state of California and citrus tree owners should be on high alert. While not harmful to humans or animals, there is no cure for HLB, and infected trees will die.
“Our California citrus is threatened by the ACP and HLB, so pest and disease management is crucial to protecting not only your own trees, but also your neighbors’ trees and the state’s citrus production,” said Victoria Hornbaker, director of the Citrus Pest and Disease Prevention Division at the California Department of Food and Agriculture. “Commercially grown California citrus is a $3.4 billion industry, which could be lost if HLB is not stopped. Community support is critical to saving our iconic state staple and that’s why we encourage at-home gardeners to follow these best practices to keep their trees fruitful for years to come.”
To grow healthy California citrus:
- Inspect for the ACP (typically found on new leaf growth) and HLB symptoms monthly, or whenever watering, spraying or pruning your trees. Learn what to look for here: https://californiacitrusthreat.org/pest-disease/
- Apply proper products to keep pests at bay. Ask your local nursery or garden center about which products are best.
- Keep ants off your citrus tree. Ants protect harmful pests like the ACP. Place ant bait around citrus trees and follow the product’s label instructions.
- While harvesting fruit, clip the fruit off at the stem and remove all leaves. If you’re sharing fruit with neighbors, any leaves or stems attached could unknowingly spread pests, including the ACP.
- Be sure to dry out citrus tree clippings or double bag them before removing the plant material from the property.
- Cooperate with state agricultural officials who may be inspecting trees in your area. If you see an agricultural official, it may mean that the ACP or HLB has been found near your home.
“Over the past two years, people have increasingly added gardening to their list of pastimes, but this hobby comes with a responsibility,” said Sandra Zwaal, University of California Master Gardener. “HLB has been found in residential citrus trees throughout Southern California and in order to protect your trees, and your community’s citrus, we need to follow best practices to limit further spread of the ACP and HLB.”
HLB affects all citrus plants and some relatives of citrus, like orange jasmine and curry leaves. If you think you’ve found the ACP or HLB, call the statewide hotline at 800-491-1899.
For more information on ACP and HLB prevention, visit CaliforniaCitrusThreat.org.
About the Citrus Pest and Disease Prevention Program
The Citrus Pest and Disease Prevention Program was established in 2009 to advise the Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture and agricultural industry about efforts to combat serious citrus pests and diseases – like the Asian citrus psyllid and Huanglongbing – that threaten California’s citrus trees. To learn more, visit CaliforniaCitrusThreat.org.