Late last month, a destructive citrus disease was detected for the first time in San Bernardino County. The quarantine area for the economically devastating citrus greening disease has been expanding in an attempt to keep it from reaching the commercial groves in the Southern San Joaquin Valley. According to the California Department of Food and Agriculture, a tree in Montclair was infected with Huanglongbing (HLB), which is a bacterial infection spread by a tiny insect called the Asian citrus psyllid. Officials will inspect and spray citrus trees within 400 meters of the infected tree in San Bernardino County to try and prevent further spreading of the disease.
The first case of the disease in California was confirmed by authorities in residential areas of Hacienda Heights back in 2012. HLB was detected again in 2015 in residential areas of San Gabriel, which is about 20 miles away. The HLB bacteria attack the citrus tree’s vascular system, which results in fruit that is hard, bitter and misshapen. The good thing is that the citrus disease doesn’t pose a risk to human health.
The quarantine imposes strict prohibitions on transporting citrus trees and fruit. This means that no fruit that is not commercially cleaned and packed, including residential citrus, can be moved from the property on which it is grown. Despite this, it may still be processed or consumed on the premises. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the first psyllids in California were found in the U.S.-Mexico border region of San Diego and Imperial counties in 2008 and have slowly moved northward due to people transporting infested trees and fruit. If you suspect insects or bacterial infestation, California Department of Food and Agriculture officials are urging people to call the agency’s toll-free pest hot line at 1-800-491-1899 or visit its website at https://www.cdfa.ca.gov/plant/index.html to make a report.