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Citrus Disease Threatens California’s $2 Billion Industry

The public is asked to help fight the spread of the disease.

A tree disease is threatening California’s $2 billion citrus industry, and the state and federal government are asking the public to help stop it from spreading. 

A bug called the Asian citrus psyllid carries the disease, Huanglongbing (HLB). While the disease is not harmful to humans or animals, it is deadly for trees. 

The disease is considered especially problematic because California is the nation’s top producer of citrus, according to a news release from the Citrus Pest & Disease Prevention Program. Californians also have more citrus trees on their property than any other state.  

An infected tree can take more than a year to show symptoms, and the first sign is often yellowed leaves followed by misshapen and bitter fruit. A complete list of HLB symptoms can be found online at californiacitrusthreat.org.

The California Department of Food and Agriculture, the Citrus Pest & Disease Prevention Program, and the United States Department of Agriculture are joining forces to raise awareness. Residents with citrus trees on their property are being asked to report suspicious pests and signs of HLB immediately by calling 800-491-1899.

HLB was first discovered in Los Angeles County last year when a backyard tree tested positive. That’s prompted the state to set a quarantine boundary that includes 93 square-miles in the surrounding area.

Residents are advised to protect their citrus trees by inspecting them monthly, and double-bagging clippings.

For more information about HLB and efforts to curb its spread, visit californiacitrusthreat.org.

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