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Citrus Trees: Move It AND Lose It

Posted by Abby Yigzaw, Public Affairs Specialist, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) in Animals Plants
Aug 12, 2020
Help Save Our Citrus --  visit or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
Help Save Our Citrus -- visit or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Soon, citrus producing states across America, including Arizona, California, Florida, Louisiana and Texas, will be full of fresh citrus. But gone are the days of sharing the fruit trees or seeds with friends and family out of state or even in the next county. It’s no longer as simple as packing it up and shipping it, or buying a citrus tree at a road side stand to bring home.

You’ve heard the saying “move it or lose it.” When it comes to citrus trees, it’s “Move It AND Lose It.” When you move citrus trees, you risk losing America’s citrus altogether – think breakfast with no fresh oranges, grapefruit or even juice.

Moving citrus trees is the fastest way that citrus diseases are spread. Four serious citrus diseases found in the United States include Huanglongbing (also known as citrus greening or HLB for short), citrus canker, citrus black spot and sweet orange scab. Learn more about each disease by visiting the What Are the Diseases section of the Save Our Citrus website.

When infected trees, fruit, clippings, equipment or even workers are moved to a new area, the disease comes with them. It’s not just commercial citrus that is susceptible to these diseases. Homegrown citrus trees can easily become infected and spread disease.

Move It AND Lose It: Five Things You Need to Know

  1. Be Aware of Quarantines. Knowing where quarantines are is key to preventing the spread of disease.  For example, if your county is under quarantine for both the Asian citrus psyllid and citrus greening, this means that citrus cannot leave these counties. No citrus plants, fruit, equipment or items made with citrus (such as floral arrangements, wreaths, potpourri or seasonings like kaffir lime leaves) may be moved from quarantined areas. Not only are you risking spreading citrus diseases by transporting citrus outside of these areas, but it's also against the law. Check our quarantine map to learn what areas are under quarantine.
  2. Inspect Citrus Plants Regularly for Diseases and Insects. Check citrus plants for signs of Huanglongbing and other citrus diseases. If you detect an infected plant, report it immediately.
  3. Keep Homegrown Citrus at Home. Help reduce the spread of citrus diseases by not moving your homegrown citrus plants or fruits. Even if a tree looks healthy, don’t move it. This is the simplest yet most important thing for all Americans to do to protect our citrus.
  4. Check Citrus Plant Suppliers. Be a savvy buyer. Only buy citrus plants from a reputable, licensed nursery.  Commercial fruit packers, Internet shippers and roadside vendors within regulated states should be able to show that they are in compliance with the federal quarantine. Before you buy, ask the vendor if their product is in compliance. If you buy a plant that is disease-free, you'll have a much healthier, more productive tree.
  5. Avoid Fines and Penalties. If you knowingly purchase citrus trees in violation of quarantine regulations and requirements, the penalties could range from $1,100 to $60,000 per violation. If you suspect citrus trees are being moved improperly, report your concerns to your USDA State Plant Health Director's office; you can find contact information online at

Thank you for doing your part to stop the spread of citrus diseases. To learn more about the Save Our Citrus campaign, visit or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Category/Topic: Animals Plants

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Duane Runciman
Sep 23, 2014

The level of concern of Citrus Greening is reported in a number of articles, however our company (UK based - Organic chemicals) carried out 2 live psyllid trials and had 100% success on sterilising the off spring of the psyllids and yet getting the research people to give us the time of day is near on impossible. This is ridiculous to think of the millions of your tax payer $$ being spent on various research and we have something worth pursuing but because we are not a US based research institute we don't get the time of the day. We spent a mere 4,000 GBP studying this with a fully safe / non toxic / organic product and had 100% success in controlling the spreading agent using the same vector (what more could you want than spreading of clean insects to breed out the bacteria) and no one pays 1 iota of attention ...shame on the Citrus Grower research organisations and your government agencies. We will keep pursuing this as it is a clean, organic and sustainable solution worth further study to prove the point.

Deb Gateley
Dec 30, 2015

What about the spread of disease by mail? Years ago, mail processing plants had Ag dept inspection stations. There seems to be no inspections any longer. I work inside a post office in the central valley of CA, and customers are continually mailing citrus in our flat rate boxes to all corners of the US. I try to dissuade them, but I'm the only one it seems. Can the postal service get some back up on not mailing backyard fruit? USPS should be adhering to Ag restrictions, but the rules are very unspecific. Thank you

John E Burchard
Sep 04, 2016

This is antique (it's now September 2016). What is the current status? I live in the Central Valley of California (I'm a Water District general manager) and in this immediate area we have no citrus (too cold in winter on the valley floor, citrus are on the slopes). We have alfalfa and (now, all of a sudden) pistachios. Nowhere near enough water to support all that - but that's a different rant. I would be interested in growing kaffir limes for leaves and perhaps fruit - and also curry tree leaves. How to get uninfected plants?

Organic Trees
Dec 28, 2016

I love Citrus trees. Citrus trees should be planted in a sunny and wind-protected area.Trees can be planted at any time duration. However, spring is the best time.To treat infected area, Clean-up and remove all leaf debris under the tree. Prune the lower branches from the tree, those that are more than 2 feet from the ground. Then spray with a fungicide such as Agri-Fos or Captan.

Apr 03, 2017

Hello! Your links above are no longer working. :) Good article as I'm thinking of growing a Kaffir lime tree in my home (indoors) for seasoning and having fresh leaves available when needed by freezing them. Is there a restriction on indoor grown Kaffir lime and moving it? Or, do I need to bag it and have it quarantined before moving to a restricted area (Alabama to...??? - anywhere but here GS Civilian) - and even though I'd be keeping it indoors. Thanks in advance for any info you can provide! USDA - Love the work you do every day!

Diane Baxter
Jun 01, 2017

Is it safe to buy a citrus tree from Home Depot with a tag that says"Do not move in or out of a quarantined area? This is in Los Angeles County.

Ben Weaver
Jun 01, 2017

@Diane Baxter - Hi Diane, yes, you can buy a citrus tree from Home Depot. However, the tag indicates that the tree is currently being purchased within a quarantine area. A quarantine is an area where the movement of plants is regulated and it would be a violation of federal regulations to leave the quarantine area with the plant. You can find information about the current quarantine boundaries here: The quarantines that apply to citrus in California are for the Asian Citrus Psyllid (ACP) and Huanglongbing (HLB) or citrus greening. Citrus is also a host for many fruit flies.

Peter Karastamatis
Oct 08, 2017

I frequently observe citrus trees for sale at Home Depot and Lowe's that have green fruit that appears to have either canker or greening disfiguration on the fruit. The employees tell me their products are approved for sale by inspectors. Recently I purchased and planted very young Persian lime and Meyer lemon young trees. The lime had a fruit on it the size of a golf ball and their were two others that were slightly smaller and forming. They were clean at purchase. Within 4-6 weeks the larger fruit showed small pock marks similar in appearance to canker spots. A few weeks later the affected area spread to two thirds of the fruit surface looking exactly the same as pictures of canker diseased fruit. Is it possible the trees contacted disease while planted that showed on already forming fruit? There are no other signs of greening, canker or leaf miner activity on the tree or leaves. Any suggestions? My feeling is the box store sold an infected tree because I continuously see these possibly diseased fruits on display at both stores. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Irene F Kilstrom
Jun 02, 2018

I recently came home from vacation and found my two lemon trees (in Pots) tagged and quarantined. I wondered if it is my whole neighborhood that was quarantined or just how it was known that I had two trees in my backyard. I would think that I should have been notified either by a knock on the door (I was not home) or a note left that it was done and that they had been on my property.

Ben Weaver
Jun 05, 2018

@Irene F Kilstrom - USDA staff and our State agriculture department partners conduct periodic inspections throughout the year to monitor the health of citrus trees in and around citrus-related quarantine areas. You can see where there are citrus-related quarantines at Early detection is the most cost effective method to prevent citrus disease outbreaks with minimal impact on homeowners, the environment, economy, and U.S. agriculture.

Citrus Fan
Jul 28, 2018

In 1.Be Aware of Quarantines. it states "Check our interactive quarantine map to learn what areas are under quarantine." The word "our" is misleading since it suggests that the map and associated link is to a USDA managed page, but the link goes to a NON-USDA site. Also, the map is non-functional or non-existent. Please fix this.

Ben Weaver
Aug 01, 2018

@Citrus Fan - Because this blog post is several years old, USDA no longer supports the website and the mapping element described in this blog post. Now, you can find citrus information by logging onto To find more information about APHIS' citrus health programs, you can go to our Citrus Health Response Program page. For information about quarantines in specific states, please click on the specific citrus pest you are interested in on that page.

Debbie dean
Jul 22, 2019

I am moving from Washington state to Arizona. Can I take my lime tree? I will be passing through Oregon, Idaho, Utah and nevada .

Dec 01, 2019

Still confused. Can I ship my Florida homegrown grapefruit to family members in North Carolina and Tennessee?

Ben Weaver
Dec 05, 2019

@Theresa - thank you for your comment. The entire state of Florida is under quarantine for citrus greening disease, Asian citrus psyllid, citrus canker and sweet orange scab. A relatively small area of southwest Florida in adjoining areas of Hendry and Collier counties is under quarantine for citrus black spot. Due to these quarantines, USDA APHIS prohibits the movement of homegrown citrus out of the state of Florida. This means that homegrown grapefruit from Florida cannot be shipped or hand carried to North Carolina or Tennessee.

Mar 29, 2020

Can I ship my homegrown grapefruit from Arizona to Michigan?

Ben Weaver
Apr 13, 2020

@Amy - thank you for reaching out about shipping your homegrown grapefruit from Arizona to Michigan, a non-citrus-producing state. No citrus fruit, including grapefruit from backyard trees, can be shipped out of Arizona unless it is washed and treated to mitigate the disease Sweet Orange Scab (SOS). In order to do this in your home, you must wash and brush the citrus to clean it thoroughly. Then the fruit must be treated with a mild bleach solution by fully submerging the fruit in it and then letting it dry naturally. There are also companies in Mesa and Tucson who have agreed to treat homeowner’s fruit for them: Orange Patch in Mesa and Micander Enterprises in Tucson. Of course, the best way to protect American citrus is to simply enjoy your fruit locally and not ship it outside of your state.

Apr 13, 2020

Can I buy a citrus tree from a commercial grower in a quarantine area to plant at home also in the quarantine area?

Ben Weaver
Apr 15, 2020

@Albert – thank you for reaching out regarding purchasing a commercial citrus tree in a quarantine area. It is safe to purchase a commercial citrus tree to plant in your home garden if your home garden is in the same quarantine area as the commercial plant nursery where you purchased it. Transporting and planting the purchased tree would become an issue if you were to move the tree outside of the quarantine area. Your local State Plant Health Director’s office and/or your local State Department of Agriculture are valuable resources of information regarding citrus health and can provide information to anyone with questions unique to their state or situation.

Long Tran
May 25, 2020

I recently bought several citrus tree from a nursery outside of my county with no knowledge of a quarantine. They nursery never told me about any diseases regard citrus. I trusted the nursery to pick out the trees for me (which in hindsight was probably a mistake). One tree, a Mexican lime, came with a tag that said “do not move out of quarantine area”, I did not notice this until they planted the tree. Am I in danger of being fined or was this transaction the nursery’s fault for moving the trees at all?

May 31, 2020

I am being told by a neighbor that moving citrus fruit out of the yard is a "big no-no" in response to a request for donations of excess fruit, including from my grapefruit tree, to a local hospital and food pantry.

Zone 7 and Zone 2 for nursery
Yes or No?

I've been sharing and trading with neighbors and the intended hospital and food pantry is in the same city/county/zone.

And it would be very nice if both the USDA and various state equivalents would include links to homeowner restrictions so we would not have to depend on q/a sites like this one.
Thank you.

Aug 02, 2020

Your quarantine map link goes to NOWHERE

meryl eldridge
Aug 12, 2020

Help us out! Need updated information. The quarantine map link is malfunctioning. Hoping for accurate, current information from our USDA, government source. Please.

Lee Coffin
Nov 16, 2020

I live in California, and would like to order 6 Rio Red grapefruit (fruit only) from South Texas, to be shipped to me for personal consumption only in my home. Is this specically prohibited by USDA regulations? If so, could you please email me the specific regulation that covers this? Thank you !!

Lee Coffin

Ben Weaver
Nov 18, 2020

@Lee Coffin - thank you for reaching out about the regulations governing citrus movement in California. California’s citrus pest exterior quarantine (CCR 3250) requires a USDA-issued certificate for commercial fruit coming from a Texas packinghouse. If the citrus is not coming from a commercial packinghouse, but rather from a yard, it would not be allowed. The California Department of Food and Agriculture can provide the most comprehensive guidance local to your area. We recommend reaching out to your State Plant Regulatory Office at (916) 654-0317 or for more information.

John Valenzuela
Feb 19, 2021

The above article states:
“But gone are the days of sharing the fruit trees or seeds with friends and family out of state or even in the next county.”

Two questions regarding backyard (non-commercial) propagation of citrus by seed in California:

1. Where can I find the regulation that specifically 
prohibits “backyard” (non-commercial) citrus seed propagation from a non-certified disease-free source, as all regulations seem to be specific to “commercial nurseries”?

2. If there is no regulation stating specific prohibitions for backyard citrus seed growers in California, where can I find an “official” recommendation for proper backyard citrus seed propagation?

Thank you for your vigilance to keep our citrus healthy!

Ben Weaver
Feb 22, 2021

@John Valenzuela - thank you for your comment. The California Department of Food and Agriculture can provide the most comprehensive guidance local to your area. We recommend reaching out to CDFA Citrus Division Director, Victoria Hornbaker at for more information.

Rosalee Reddick Morer
Apr 19, 2021

Am I allowed to move my 30-year old Meyer Lemon Tree (planted in Oak Barrel) from Irvine, Orange County, Ca to Penn Valley, Nevada County, Ca?

Ben Weaver
Apr 20, 2021

@Rosalee Reddick Morer - thank you for your comment. The California Department of Food and Agriculture can provide the most comprehensive guidance local to your area. We recommend reaching out to CDFA Citrus Division Director, Victoria Hornbaker at for more information.

Aug 30, 2021

Hi, is it allowed to purchase a lemon tree from a region in California that is not in any quarantine and plant it in a quarantine area? For Los Angeles specifically.

Ben Weaver
Aug 31, 2021

@Diane - thank you for your comment. The California Department of Food and Agriculture can provide the most comprehensive guidance local to your area. We recommend reaching out to CDFA Citrus Division Director, Victoria Hornbaker at for more information.

Calamansi Question
Oct 23, 2021

I recently purchased a calamansi plant that was tagged by USDA and notes it was ISD treated and on July 2021

Are the fruits from these plants safe it eat after getting the ISD treatment? I can't find much about ISD. Is this the same thing citrus fruits in the stores are treated with?