Southern California breaking news and trends

Infestation concerns grow at abandoned citrus groves

orange tree grove

Cecilia Aros/ Flickr Creative Commons

California's citrus plants could be in trouble if a disease known as "citrus greening" spreads.

In the face of a huanglongbing outbreak, growers are being required to monitor groves for pests, even if they've abandoned them because of the high cost of irrigation, say agricultural officials.

Farmers in Northern San Diego County have reportedly been shutting down orchards in the Valley Center area because of rising water costs. Some trees, however, have survived on rainfall, and officials do not want them to become pest infested.

Sometimes called "citrus greening," huanglongbing disease -- an incurable citrus massacring contagion spread via the Asian Citrus Psyllid-- was discovered last week in Hacienda Heights prompting 93-square mile quarantine in Los Angeles and Orange counties.

The county's agriculture department is preparing a letter to growers reminding them of their responsibility, reports the North County Times. The outbreak threatens to decimate the state's $2 billion citrus industry.

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Citrus lockdown: Quarantine declared in Hacienda Heights area

orange tree grove

Cecilia Aros/ Flickr Creative Commons

93-square-miles of Los Angeles County is under citrus quarantine, state agricultural officials announced late Tuesday night.

The quarantine prohibits removing any citrus fruit from the area that is not commercially cleaned and packed. No fruit may be removed from property on which it is grown (although it may be consumed onsite).

The deadly citrus disease, huanglongbing (also know as "citrus greening"), has had bug detectives itching for months in anticipation of the seemingly imminent infestation. Recent discoveries in the the Hacienda Heights area had CA officials walking door-to-door collecting samples from backyards just days ago.

The quarantine area -- centered near State Route 60 -- extends south into Orange County, north into Baldwin Park and West Covina, west into South El Monte and Whittier and east into Walnut and Rowland Heights, said the California Department of Food and Agriculture said in a statement.

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Bug hunters deployed in suburban L.A. after citrus disease detected

orange tree grove

Cecilia Aros/ Flickr Creative Commons

State agricultural officials in suburban Los Angeles have been frantically walking door-to-door setting traps and collecting tissue samples from backyard citrus trees in an effort to stop a full-blown arborcide.

Last week, the devastating tree-killing disease, huanglongbing, was detected locally, prompting the deployment of bug detectives to investigate a half-mile radius from the discovery.

By the end of the weekend, 435 properties had been surveyed, 178 "host plants" were identified, and samples were taken from 57 potentially infected trees.

One confirmed case of huanglongbing, commonly referred to as citrus greening, has been reported. Symptoms exhibited by sick trees include yellowing of new shoots, misshapen fruit, and leaf blotching. 

The state is seeking emergency authority to spray trees in the area -- the disease caused billions of dollars in damage across Florida since its detection there in 2005.

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Code orange: California citrus trees are under attack

orange tree grove

Cecilia Aros/ Flickr Creative Commons

An emergency situation is becoming increasingly critical as efforts expand by the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) to control a bug that's threatening the more than $1 billion the state economy juices from the citrus industry.

Responsible for transmitting the deadly, incurable Huanglongbing disease to citrus-producing trees, the Asian Citrus Psyllid, though not inherently vengeful, is poised to carry out widespread destruction of the state's commercial citrus groves.

On Tuesday, the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors adopted a resolution supporting the state's efforts to stop the spread of the insect, the SB Sun reports. The resolution allows the county's agricultural commissioner to require treatment of citrus trees located within 400 meters from where an insect is found.

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