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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
Apr 15, 2019
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.