I have a citrus tree in my yard.

When you take a moment to think about it, citrus probably plays a larger role in your daily life than you realize. Your backyard oranges become fresh-squeezed orange juice at breakfast. That perfect lime from your local grocer adds zest to your family’s favorite fish taco recipe. And you love the smell of orange blossoms that fill the California springtime air. 

Now imagine if you walked out to your backyard and those oranges weren’t there. Or visited your local grocer and found no California oranges, grapefruit, lemons or limes in the produce section. Imagine if you could never enjoy the springtime scent of orange blossoms again.

While this seems unimaginable, it could become a reality if we don’t work together to stop the spread of a tiny bug that causes a huge problem.

What is the threat?

Huanglongbing (HLB), also known as citrus greening, is a bacterial plant disease that is fatal to citrus. Infected trees decline in health, produce inedible fruit and eventually die.

Asian citrus psyllid is the tiny insect that spreads HLB. The psyllids feed on the leaves and stems of flushing new growth on citrus trees and can infect the tree with the bacterium that causes HLB. Once a citrus tree is infected with HLB, it can die in as little as five years.

Can't you just replant?

Once a tree is planted, it takes at least 5 years to begin producing fruit. However, the tree does not reach full size and full production capacity until 10-14 years. This causes a huge gap from the time a tree dies until a new one can take its place. Think about going 15 years without citrus. A newly planted tree can also become infected and never bear any fruit.

How am I impacted?

Consumers already feel the impact of HLB in other citrus-growing regions. Since 2010, the price of a gallon of orange juice has risen from $5.49 to $6.63 in 2015 because the Florida market has been hit so hard with HLB.

If HLB continues to spread, the disease could impact California production and cause the price of fresh market citrus to rise.

What's my role?

More than 60 percent of California homeowners have citrus trees in their yards. Because HLB can spread from infected citrus trees in residential areas to nearby commercial growers, homeowners play a critical role in the fight against the disease. 

When Asian citrus psyllids attack your citrus tree, these tiny insects can quickly spread across an entire community. 

The psyllids reproduce quickly and migrate to other trees, whether in your neighbor’s yard or in the commercial citrus grove a few blocks away, putting both at risk for contracting HLB. By knowing the signs and acting early, you can help ensure your favorite fruits don’t disappear.

What can I do?

You’ve taken care of your citrus tree for years, and the arrival of this pest in California threatens your favorite fruit. Take these steps to help save citrus!

Here are four ways you can join us in our mission to save California citrus:

  1. Access additional resources specific to your area by visiting CaliforniaCitrusThreat.org.
  2. Have your trees checked if you think they might be infected. Call the California Department of Food and Agriculture at 1-800-491-1899 for more information. 
  3. Become familiar with treatment options, as well as other best management practices outlined through University of California, Davis.
  4. Spread the word about HLB and the Asian citrus psyllid to help get all residents of California to take action. Use #CitrusMatters on Twitter or Instagram for a chance to win great prizes!
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