Take Measures to Protect Your Citrus Trees

Tuesday, April 26, 2016
By: Lance Walheim, Gardening Expert and Commercial Citrus Grower
Keep California citrus safe from deadly HLB

Fresh squeezed OJ from the orange tree in your backyard is hard to beat. Or how about a nice tart lemon in your ice water on a hot summer day? With citrus trees in approximately 60% of California yards[1], there’s no doubt that these trees are an iconic part of the California landscape. If you’re a home gardener, helping these trees thrive is important to you. Whether it’s the fruit in our backyards or a neighboring grove, we need to understand that there is a disease threatening the health and viability of our beloved citrus.

What’s happening?

Currently, California citrus is being threatened by a deadly disease known as Huanglongbing (HLB), also called citrus greening. This disease has already devastated the Florida citrus industry with a 60% decline in farmer’s yields, driving the price for one box of oranges to increase by 175% over the past 10 years.[2]  And it’s not just the price of juice and fresh fruit that is hurting. From 2012 – 2013, this disease impacted over 60,000 jobs across various industry groups in Florida.[3]

Asian Citrus Psyllid pest on citrus treeWith the future of the orange industry at stake and every backyard tree as well, it takes help from everyone to learn and understand how to identify not only the disease, but the pest that is responsible for spreading it. The Asian citrus psyllid, a tiny pest only 1/8 of an inch long, transmits the disease by feeding on new growth. The insect spreads to neighboring trees by wind, flying short distances or on infested plants or foliage being transported across the state. Once infected with HLB, trees produce bitter and misshapen fruits and yellow leaves, and are expected to die within five years. There is no cure for HLB. To stop its spread, we have to stop the psyllid.

The threat is real.

Asian Citrus Psyllid pests attacking citrus treeCalifornia has seen a recent increase in cases of the Asian Citrus Psyllid since 2012. With 3 additional cases of HLB confirmed in San Gabriel, California, this brings the total of HLB-positive trees to 18 since 2012.[4] Eight of those were confirmed in the summer of 2015 according to Western Farm Press.

I’m taking action, will you?

As a native of California and lover of all things citrus, I could not imagine spring without the smell of orange blossoms in the air or being able to pick my favorite fruits right in my backyard. I’m saddened by how this disease has hurt the industry in Florida and do not want to see the same happen right here in my home state. I’m asking you to share #CitrusMatters with your family, friends and neighbors. With simple pre-emptive measures such as checking our trees frequently, reporting suspicious finds, following quarantine rules** and applying pest prevention products when called for, we can stop this disease and (make a difference for) save our iconic citrus trees in California.

**Visit www.CaliforniaCitrusThreat.org/Areas-At-Risk to learn more about state quarantines.


We’ve brought to light the devastation that this disease has caused to other citrus growing regions across the U.S. This disease affects everyone – decreasing yields for citrus growers, killing backyard trees, and increasing prices for consumers. Whether California is your home state or you’re across the country, this citrus disease impacts the availability of fresh citrus for everyone. Share the images below on your social media accounts to get others to start checking and protecting their trees for the Asian citrus psyllid right away!

Stay up to date.

To continue to educate yourself about HLB and the Asian citrus psyllid threat to California visit www.CACitrusMutual.com or www.CaliforniaCitrusThreat.org. Don’t forget to download the infographic below from Bayer Citrus Matters and share with your neighbors. Sign up for citrus and HLB updates for a chance to win great prizes like a Breville® Citrus Press Pro. Don’t miss out!

#CitrusMatters California citrus fun facts social shares

[1] ACP/HLB Distribution and Management. (n.d.). Retrieved March 31, 2016, from http://ucanr.edu/sites/ACP/

[2] Citrus Greening Disease. (n.d.). Retrieved March 31, 2016, from http://www.cropscience.bayer.com/en/Magazine/Citrus-Greening-Disease.aspx

[3] Hodges, A. W., Rahmani, M., Stevens, T. J., & Spreen, T. H. (2014, December 19). Economic Impacts of the Florida Citrus Industry in 2012-13. Retrieved March 29, 2016, from http://www.fred.ifas.ufl.edu/pdf/economic-impact-analysis/Economic_Impacts_Florida_Citrus_Industry_2012-13.pdf

[4] Houtby, A. (2016, April 01). More HLB finds in San Gabriel bring total count to 18 - California Citrus Mutual. Retrieved April 05, 2016, from http://www.cacitrusmutual.com/more-hlb-finds-in-san-gabriel-bring-total-count-to-18/


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