It’s time to grab those gloves and get outside for some gardening! April is not only a great time to plant citrus trees, but it’s also Invasive Plant Pest and Disease Awareness Month. Before wielding that shovel, take a few minutes to learn how to keep your trees healthy and prevent the spread of citrus disease.
Citrus greening disease, also known as Huanglongbing (HLB), is one of the most severe plant diseases in the world. The disease has devastated millions of citrus trees in the United States and now has the potential to eliminate the citrus industry. Once a tree is infected with the disease, there is no known cure.
Citrus greening is spread by a bug the size of the head of a pin—the Asian citrus psyllid (ACP). When the bug feeds on an infected tree, it becomes a carrier, spreading the disease from one tree to another. Although the disease is not harmful to humans, fruit from infected trees are not suitable for consumption because of their green color, misshapen appearance and bitter taste.
Here are four tips to help get you started with citrus while preventing the spread of citrus greening disease:
1. Be Aware of Quarantines. If you are thinking about buying a citrus plant, be sure not to move it from quarantined states or territories. Not only are you risking spreading citrus diseases by transporting citrus outside of these areas, but it's also against the law. Review the quarantine map at SaveOurCitrus.org.
2. Check the Citrus Plant Supplier. Be a savvy buyer. Citrus plants sold in a regulated state must be sold from a certified vendor and be properly labeled.
3. Keep Homegrown Citrus at Home. Help reduce the spread of citrus diseases by not moving your homegrown citrus fruit or plants from quarantine areas.
4. Inspect Citrus Plants Regularly for Diseases and Insects. Visit our symptom checklist and corresponding photos to identify a plant impacted by ACP, citrus greening, citrus canker, citrus black spot and sweet orange scab. If you detect an infected plant, report it immediately.
If you suspect your citrus may be diseased, report it immediately to the USDA. The USDA’s Save Our Citrus iPhone App offers a convenient way for people to identify and report suspected citrus disease. This free app is available for download from the iTunes store. To learn more about the Save Our Citrus program, visit www.saveourcitrus.org or follow the program on Facebook and Twitter.
USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has declared April as Invasive Plant Pest and Disease Awareness Month. Throughout the month, APHIS is posting a series of blog entries here and also share invasive plant pest and disease information through our twitter feed. APHIS and its federal and state partners are fighting to protect our communities, our public lands, and our agricultural resources from invasive species. But we can’t do it alone. Join the fight by visiting www.HungryPests.com.