HLB Found in California Citrus Birthplace

Taylor HillmanFruits & Vegetables, Pest Update

A citrus tree in the city of Riverside tested positive for huanglongbing (HLB) disease. The detection is the first case of HLB found in a major citrus-producing county and the most northern in California.

citrus greening

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) confirmed the detection of HLB disease in a sample taken from a grapefruit tree located in a Riverside neighborhood. Riverside County Agricultural Commissioner Ruben Arroyo said the tree has since been removed. Following protocol for HLB detections in California, host-plants in an 800-meter perimeter around the site will be treated for Asian citrus psyllids.

Also, a 5-mile quarantine will be placed around the site, and Arroyo said this is where things get complicated. “We have identified some abandoned orchards, some production nurseries and unfortunately the University of California, Riverside will fall inside of that quarantine,” he said.

Quarantine rules halt all host-plant materials from leaving the designated area. “There are some methods available that can help with the movement under the quarantine…but as of now, everything is put on hold,” Arroyo said.

Listen to Arroyo’s full interview
07-27-17 Arroyo HLB 942

Arroyo said Riverside County would take an aggressive stance against orchards not being taken care of. “This is a serious disease that could threaten the whole livelihood and structure of Riverside County,” he said. “California citrus was born in Riverside County. My board, county council and everyone in this county, including myself, is taking it very seriously.”

Under the California Food and Agriculture Code, agricultural commissioners have abatement authority and can treat or remove abandoned trees. “With the help of my board and county council, we are going to take an aggressive approach on any abandoned orchards on that abatement authority within the 5-mile quarantine,” Arroyo said. “It will be on a case-by-case basis but we will be looking at any area that could potentially harbor the disease and are not being taken care of.”