Backyard fruit quarantine spreads to LA County

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State agriculture officials have announced a quarantine today on backyard citrus fruit and plant movement in Los Angeles County. KPCC’s Cheryl Devall says a pesky insect is the reason.

The Asian citrus psyllid is potentially as destructive as it is tiny. It carries bacteria that cause trees to produce inedible fruit, then wither and die. There’s no cure for the infestation.

That’s one reason the state food and agriculture department is taking no chances. Days after it banned Orange County citrus growers from moving plants, cuttings, and fruit, the department’s extended that quarantine to Los Angeles County. Inspectors found several dozen of the insects in L.A.’s Echo Park neighborhood.

The head of the state ag department said the pest can affect all citrus trees, and the restrictions will help to protect them all – especially California’s valuable orange and lemon crops. Florida, where most of the country’s juice oranges grow, has detected the psyllid and the crop-killing disease.