California Dept. of Food and Agriculture declares 93-sq.-mi. quarantine in Hacienda Heights area of Los Angeles following detection of citrus greening disease; quarantine prohibits removal of any citrus not commercially cleaned, packed
HACIENDA HEIGHTS, California
April 4, 2012
– A 93-square-mile quarantine was declared Tuesday in the Hacienda Heights area of Los Angeles County following the detection of a deadly citrus disease, the California Department of Food and Agriculture said.
The area is part of a larger quarantine already in place in Southern California for the Asian citrus psyllid, the pest that spreads bacteria causing huanglongbing - more commonly called citrus greening. The disease attacks a tree's vascular system, producing bitter fruit and eventually killing the tree.
The disease stands to threaten not only California's nearly $2 billion citrus industry, but treasured backyard trees scattered throughout the state.
The quarantine prohibits the removal of any citrus fruit that is not commercially cleaned and packed. Any other fruit must stay on the property on which it is grown and may be consumed onsite.
The quarantine zone is centered near State Route 60 and Hacienda Boulevard, and extends south into Orange County, north into Baldwin Park and West Covina, west into South El Monte and Whittier and east into Walnut and Rowland Heights.
"The success of any quarantine depends on cooperation from those affected," said Karen Ross, secretary of the state agriculture department. "The stakes couldn't be higher for California citrus. We urge residents in the Hacienda Heights area to do all they can to comply."
The quarantine is expected to last at least two years, the length of the latency period for the development of huanglongbing symptoms in an infected tree.
Federal, state and county agricultural officials continued to investigate the source of the disease. Ground treatment of citrus trees within 800 meters of the diseased tree was tentatively scheduled to begin next week, the department said.
Detection of the disease has been state citrus growers' fear since the bug first crossed into San Diego County from Mexico in 2008, potentially threatening California's fresh citrus market. Despite 25 years of worldwide research, there still are no biological or genetic controls for the disease that keeps fruit from ripening.
The disease is present in Mexico and across the southern U.S., but nowhere is the problem more severe than in Florida, where the disease first appeared in 2005. The University of Florida estimates it has cost 6,600 jobs, $1.3 billion in lost revenue to growers and $3.6 billion in lost economic activity.
The pest and the disease also are present in Texas, Louisiana, Georgia and South Carolina. The states of Arizona, Mississippi and Alabama have detected the pest but not the disease.
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