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Asian citrus psyllid causes quarantine in California’s Madera County

Small sap-sucking bug is only one of two known carriers of citrus greening disease

By Diego Flammini,

A discovery of the tiny Asian citrus psyllid that has the power to infect and kill citrus plants is the reason behind a 100-square mile quarantine in California’s Imperial, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Tulare, and Ventura counties.

Sections of Madera, Fresno, Kern, San Joaquin, San Luis Obispo, and Santa Clara are too under quarantine.

ACP can carry the huanglobing (HLB) disease, also recognized as citrus greening, a deadly disease to citrus plants. ACP is only one of two known carriers of the disease, the other being the African citrus psyllid.

All citrus trees are at risk of being infected with the disease and currently there’s no known cure. Once the tree is infected, it will produce bitter and misshaped fruit until it ultimately dies.

Symptoms of citrus greening include yellow veins, vein corking, and blotchy mottle on the leaves, and misshapen appearance and salty, bitter taste on the fruit itself.

As a result of the ACP discovery, most citrus and curry tree nursery stock are forbidden from leaving the quarantined areas. Exceptions are made for nursery stock and budwood grown in places approved by the USDA that are designed to keep ACP and other insects away.

California produces approximately 92% of the lemons and 80% of tangerines in the United States. In 2013, lemon sales were over $369 million.

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