USDA Urges Californians “Don’t Go Green” This Holiday Season

Share Article

Save Our Citrus Campaign focuses on Greening Disease (HLB) Prevention and Safe Gifting

Citrus Greening

Don't Go Green

With the holidays approaching, Californians like to share their home-grown lemons, oranges or tangerines with friends and family. However, enjoying homegrown citrus at home is the best way to prevent the spread of citrus diseases.

Today the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) launched a new effort to raise Californians’ awareness about the threat of citrus greening disease, also known as Huanglongbing (HLB). Californians in Los Angeles and Orange counties will soon see mobile advertisements in English and Spanish proclaiming “Don’t Go Green!” because “Greening Disease (HLB) Kills Citrus.”

Citrus greening disease (HLB) is one of the most severe plant diseases in the world. It can affect any variety of citrus trees. Once a tree is infected with the disease, there is no known cure.

Citrus tree owners are encouraged to “Learn, Check, Report” suspected citrus diseases. Residential growers can learn about the diseases on the Save Our Citrus website. They should check citrus plants regularly for signs of disease. And they can report suspicious symptoms through the website or by using the free Save Our Citrus iPhone App available for download from the iTunes store. Residents can also call the California Department of Food and Agriculture hotline 800-491-1899.

Although the disease is not harmful to humans, fruits from infected trees are not suitable for consumption because of their green color, misshapen appearance and bitter taste. The disease has devastated millions of citrus trees in the United States.

Citrus greening is spread by a bug the size of the head of a pin—the Asian citrus psyllid. When the bug feeds on an infected tree, it becomes a carrier, spreading the disease from one tree to another. Citrus greening can also spread from place to place when infected citrus, trees, clippings or equipment are moved from one place to another. Symptoms of the disease include yellow mottling of the leaves, lopsided fruit and excessive fruit drop. Psyllids and eggs are typically found on new shoots.

“California’s temperate weather is the perfect environment for growing citrus,” says Larry Hawkins, USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) spokesman for the Save Our Citrus program. “With the holidays approaching, Californians like to share their home-grown lemons, oranges or tangerines with friends and family. However, enjoying homegrown citrus at home is the best way to prevent the spread of citrus diseases.”

Citrus trees and fruit make great holiday presents when gifted smart. Before you give citrus, there are four things you should know:

1. Be Aware of Quarantines. After Asian citrus psyllid discoveries in southern California, quarantines have been established in Imperial, Los Angeles, Orange and Ventura counties, as well as parts of Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego and Santa Barbara counties. If you are thinking about giving citrus fruit, plants or items made with citrus (such as floral arrangements, wreaths, potpourri or seasonings like kaffir lime leaves) be sure not to move them 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.

2. Check Citrus Plant Suppliers. Be a savvy buyer. Only buy citrus plants from a reputable, licensed California nursery. Follow instructions on the tag regarding the Asian citrus psyllid or HLB.

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. Avoid Fines and Penalties. If you knowingly purchase citrus in violation of quarantine regulations and requirements, the penalties could range from $1,100 to $60,000 per violation. If you suspect citrus is being moved improperly, report your concerns to your USDA State Plant Health Director's office.

About Save Our Citrus: The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) manages the Save Our Citrus program. Its goal is to inform the nation about the problem and empower regular people to take easy steps that will make a lasting difference in the fight against citrus disease. The website includes extensive information about each citrus disease, as well as map detailing affected areas, citrus safety tips, links to additional resources, and information about the need to quarantine certain fruit and plants. To learn more about the Save Our Citrus program, visit

Facebook:    Twitter:

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Lawrence Hawkins
Follow us on
Visit website