California’s citrus industry is threatened by the Asian citrus psyllid, a tiny pest that can transmit the world’s deadliest citrus disease, Huanglongbing (HLB).
Currently, all of Los Angeles County is under quarantine for the psyllid which continues to spread across the state. Along with Bayer CropScience and California Citrus Mutual, City Councilmember Gil Cedillo announced today, July 2 that, “Citrus Matters” to Los Angeles. During the event, commercial citrus growers from the region were recognized for their contributions to the state of California and acknowledged the devastating disease that could destroy the state’s citrus industry. The announcement also serves to highlight the role Los Angeles residents must play in protecting California’s $2.4 billion commercial citrus industry through the #CitrusMatters initiative.
To date, the psyllid has reached 15 counties throughout Southern California; however, HLB has only been recorded in one tree in California – a lemon/pummelo tree found on residential property in the Hacienda Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles in 2012. For every Californian who cares about citrus, that tree, which has since been removed and destroyed, serves as a warning that all citrus trees are at risk of being affected, from the trees that decorate their neighborhood to the commercial groves nearby.
The #CitrusMatters initiative from Bayer CropScience and California Citrus Mutual encourages all residents of California and Los Angeles – where there are more citrus trees on residential property than in commercial groves – to take action to help prevent the spread of the Asian citrus psyllid. It is essential that homeowners with citrus trees on their property understand how to protect their trees and know what to do if they suspect trees are infected. If left untreated, the insects can move quickly from one tree to the next, eventually spreading to the commercial groves that cover much of Southern and Central California.
There are a number of ways the Los Angeles community can get involved with the campaign to help prevent the spread of the Asian citrus psyllid and protect California citrus, including:
1. Spreading the word and increasing awareness about the disease, the Asian citrus psyllid and why they love citrus using the hashtag #CitrusMatters. Through use of the hashtag (now through September 30), Bayer CropScience will contribute $1, up to $25,000, to advance existing and future research to find a solution to HLB in California.
2. Visiting CaliforniaCitrusThreat.org to access HLB and Asian citrus psyllid resources specific to Los Angeles County.
3. Monitoring their trees and contacting the California Department of Food and Agriculture Exotic Pest Hotline at 1-800-491-1899 if they think they’ve spotted an infestation and having their trees checked.
4. Becoming familiar with solutions available that can protect against the Asian citrus psyllid in their trees.
The citrus industry has a storied history in Los Angeles. Southern California’s first orange grove was planted at San Gabriel Mission in 1804, and the state’s very first commercial citrus operation was established in what is now downtown Los Angeles.
“Almost all of us native Los Angelenos have some kind of memory of grabbing a lemon off of the trees in our yards growing up or stepping outside during the spring and taking in the fresh scent of orange blossoms,” said Gil Cedillo, city councilmember representing District One, who presented the announcement. “The city of Los Angeles recognizes the contribution citrus adds to California’s economy and our residents’ lives.”
“The Los Angeles area has played a vital role in the industry’s history,” said Joel Nelsen, president of California Citrus Mutual. “We’re excited to see residents celebrate citrus and rally around our mission to protect it from the spread of HLB.”