Photo Courtesy of nyctimes.com
California’s Department of Agriculture has issued a quarantine on the sale of all citrus fruit trees in Orange County, San Gabriel Valley, Santa Barbara, Riverside, and Los Angeles unless pre treated for Huanglongbing disease also known as HLB.
If customers want to determine if a citrus tree has been pretreated for HLB then they have to look and see if the tree has a tag on it, if a tree does not have a tag than that means it has not been pretreated, according to the University of Florida.
This virus spreads through an insect called Asian Citrus Psyllids according to abc7.com. These insects are the size of a grain of rice and, despite their size, they have been destroying orange trees one at a time according to ocregister.com. Luckily the virus is not lethal to people or animals but is deadly to citrus trees. A reporter for ocregister.com stated, “Once a tree is infected, it will die. The disease has no cure.”
HLB is contagious to other plants so the most common way for a citrus plant to get infected is if it comes in close contact with another infested plant according to californiacitrusthreat.org
Anyone who buys or sells an infected citrus plant can be fined on range from 11,000 to 60,000 dollars according to abc7.com.
In the past Florida has produced about 56% of citrus fruit in the U.S, and California has produced 41%.
According to freshfromflorida.com,”All fresh, whole citrus fruit must be cleaned, inspected, treated, waxed and certified by USDA in a USDA regulated packinghouse prior to shipment, and may then be distributed if accompanied by a Federal Certificate to any state or territory of the United States, including Florida. USDA inspected fresh citrus fruit that is packed, labeled and shipped under Federal Limited Permit is approved for limited distribution, which excludes all citrus growing states and territories.”
This virus has its origins in Asia and was first found in the United States in 1998 and since has been found in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina, Arizona, California, Hawaii, and over 31 counties in Florida due to transferring infested nurseries, according ipm.ucanr.edu
This virus has become so serious that many nurseries had to stop selling citrus fruit all together according to abc7.com
In the meanwhile, researchers continue to search for a cure, but have indicated that the the best way is to prevent its causation, including the pests that carry the disease, according to oc-breeze.com