A plant disease that kills citrus trees has been found in several areas of California and is threatening the Fontana area, officials said.
The disease, called Huanglongbing (HLB) or citrus greening disease, isn’t harmful to humans, but it is fatal for citrus trees and has no cure.
The disease is spread by a pest called the Asian citrus psyllid as it feeds on citrus tree leaves.
HLB has recently been found in two residential citrus trees in San Bernardino County, and Fontana is located near the newly expanded HLB quarantine area.
An HLB quarantine area is established when HLB is detected to help prevent the spread of HLB to unaffected areas. Because HLB has been confirmed nearby, it is critical that residents do not move citrus fruit and plant material into or outside of the area, as by doing this may put area citrus trees at risk of HLB.
Until researchers find a solution, California homeowners who enjoy growing fresh citrus fruit in their yards, and California farmers tending to $2.5 billion worth of citrus fruit trees, must work together to protect their trees, officials said.
HLB had previously been confirmed in Los Angeles, Orange, and Riverside counties and now in San Bernardino County. The total number of HLB detections in California has risen to 1,754 trees.
The HLB quarantine area is a total of 1,224 square miles. This is a 38 percent increase from 2018 to 2019.
----- TIPS for caring for your citrus tree:
• Inspect your tree for the Asian citrus psyllid. The pest is most noticeable when new leaves are growing on the tips of the branches.
• Adult Asian citrus psyllids are small, brown pests that feed on citrus leaves with their body at a 45-degree angle.
• Young Asian citrus psyllids, called nymphs, produce a white, waxy substance to direct honeydew away from their bodies.
• If you think you have found the Asian citrus psyllid, report your findings to the California Department of Food and Agriculture at 800-491-1899.
• Don’t move citrus fruit or plant materials off of your property, as this may help the Asian citrus psyllid spread.
• Ask your local nursery about treatment options to help protect your trees from the Asian citrus psyllid.
• Symptoms of HLB include blotchy and yellowing leaves, premature and excessive fruit drop, lopsided fruit, and bitter, inedible fruit.
• Cooperate with agriculture officials who may ask to inspect or treat the citrus tree.
• When pruning citrus trees, be sure to dry out citrus clippings or double bag them before removing the plant material from the property.
Visit californiacitrusthreat.org for more information on the Asian citrus psyllid and HLB.