Beyond the Bubble: Fear Grips California Citrus Growers as HLB Infected Asian Psyllid Discovered

Rachael Myrow here, host of the California Report, with an AM post from somewhere else in California. We’re in this Golden State together. Right?

It happened in Hacienda Heights, a suburban bedroom community on the east side of LA County. State ag inspectors peered closely at a sickly citrus tree. Could it be?

Yup.

The California Department of Food and Agriculture sent the tree to labs in Riverside and Washington, D.C. The results are buzzing around the Citrus Research Board office in Visalia, the Visalia Times Delta reports.

The Asian citrus psyllid, having established itself in our yards, is indeed carrying the bacterial infection we’ve known it’s capable of carrying: huanglongbing, or HLB, or “citrus greening,” or a major problem for one of California’s major crops.

HLB attacks the vascular systems of citrus trees, causing them to produce bitter, yucky looking fruit before they die.

In January, the California Report talked to Mark Hoddle, UC Riverside entomologist and researcher, about his efforts to fight the psyllid by releasing Punjabi wasps whose larvae eat the psyllids. You can see a picture here.

There is no known cure for HLB, and so the spread of the disease has killed or prompted the destruction of millions of acres of trees from China to Brazil to Florida.

More recently, crews are spraying trees at homes within about 400 meters of tree zero, hoping that does the trick.

There is a statewide quarantine barring movement of non-certified citrus trees out of Southern California, but home gardeners may not be aware of the regulations – or the threat to commercial growers nearby.

Look outside. If the leaves on your citrus trees are turning yellow while the veins turn dark green, it’s time to call the CDFA at 800-491-1899.

  • Mark Brady

    Regarding HLB in Citrus;
    Is this a disease to be take seriously – yes.
    Is the sky falling – no.
    If there is no cure and Florida has been so severly devastated, then why is Tropicana running a national ad campaign to build long term brand value for juice that only comes from Florida.
    Perhaps California researchers are not sharing the complete story.

    For the real story feel free to contact:

    Mark Brady
    Western Marketing Manager
    Plant Food Systems, Inc
    Zellwood, FL
    mbrady@plantfoodsystems.com 
    559 731-1267

    • Eatadick

      Are you retarded?

Author

Rachael Myrow

From KQED’s Bureau in San Jose, Rachael Myrow’s mandate is to cover politics, economics, technology and culture in a region that stretches from Burlingame to Edenvale to Fremont. She also covers food and blogs for Bay Area Bites. Her posting as Silicon Valley Correspondent follows more than seven years as the daily host of KQED's California Report, broadcast on NPR affiliates throughout the state. She continues to guest host The California Report Magazine and Forum, and files as a freelancer for NPR and PRI’s The World. Before KQED, she worked for Marketplace and KPCC in Los Angeles.

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