USDA has launched a new effort in Florida to raise awareness about the threat of citrus greening disease, also known as Huanglongbing (HLB). The campaign is aimed at residents of the state, who may not be aware of the major pest threat that is likely residing in their dooryard trees. Residents are cautioned “Our Citrus is Going Green!” and encouraged to “Help Save Our Citrus.”
“Don’t take your daily cup of orange juice or that beautiful lemon tree for granted,” said Larry Hawkins, USDA Save Our Citrus campaign spokesman. “ One of America’s most precious natural resources — our citrus — is literally being attacked and destroyed by citrus greening disease. We hope all Floridians will take time to learn about the disease because residents are the first line of defense in stopping the spread of citrus diseases.”
The “Our Citrus is Going Green” campaign seeks to make residents aware of the following:
1. Quarantines. The entire state of Florida is under quarantine for citrus greening disease and Asian citrus psyllid. Citrus trees, fruit, or trimmings may not move into or out of Florida without a special permit. Not only are you risking spreading citrus diseases, but it’s also against the law.
2. Inspect Citrus Plants Regularly For Diseases and Insects. Check plants for signs of citrus greening such as leathery-feeling leaves with yellow spots or blotches. Fruit from infected trees may be small, deformed, and taste bitter. It also can retain a green color rather than ripening to the expected shades of yellow or orange. If you detect an infected plant, report it immediately.
3. Keep Homegrown Citrus At Home. Help reduce the spread of citrus diseases by not moving your home-grown citrus fruit or plants.
4. Check The Citrus Plant Supplier. Be a savvy buyer and only buy citrus plants from a reputable, licensed Florida nursery. Follow instructions on the tag regarding the Asian citrus psyllid or HLB.
5. Avoid Fines And Penalties. If you knowingly purchase citrus in violation of quarantine regulations and requirements, the penalties could range from $1,100 to $60,000 per violation. If you suspect citrus is being moved improperly, report your concerns to the USDA’s State Plant Health Director’s office; you can find contact information online at http://www.aphis.usda.gov/StateOffices.