USDA Encourages Public to Make Cinco de Mayo a “Citrus de Mayo” Celebration

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Save Our Citrus Raises Awareness of Citrus Diseases like Citrus Greening

citrus disease
...citrus is at the center of this festive event.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) encourages the public to make this Cinco de Mayo celebration a “Citrus de Mayo” affair by celebrating citrus’ role in the holiday’s food and culture—while also raising awareness of the serious threat that citrus diseases like citrus greening pose to United States citrus.

From the limes and oranges we use to marinate the carne asada, and the lime we squeeze over our guacamole and tacos to bring out the flavor, to the delicious margaritas and the lime wedges with which we top an ice-cold beer, citrus is at the center of this festive event.

“Cinco de Mayo is just not the same without citrus,” says Larry Hawkins, APHIS spokesman for the Save Our Citrus program. “With multiple diseases affecting our citrus and the recent confirmation of citrus greening disease in California, our access to U.S.-grown citrus is under serious threat, and with it, many of the foods and festivities we enjoy.”

Citrus greening, also known as Huanglongbing or HLB, is one of the most serious citrus plant diseases in the world. Once a tree is infected, there is no known cure. Some citrus producing states like California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas, have areas under quarantine for citrus greening disease. Named for the green, misshapen fruit and bitter taste it produces, citrus greening disease has now ruined millions of citrus plants in the southeastern United States. The first case of citrus greening in California was confirmed on March 30, 2012.

“We encourage everyone to go out and celebrate a ‘Citrus de Mayo,’” says Hawkins. “But as they’re doing so, we encourage them to think about the importance of citrus and, more importantly, to be sure not to move citrus or citrus plants from areas that are under quarantine.”

To learn more about the USDA’s Save Our Citrus program or to report suspected citrus disease, visit Citizens can assist in Save Our Citrus efforts by observing quarantine restrictions and refraining from taking or sending citrus fruit, trees, leaves or any part of their trees away from where they are grown. A new detection tool, the Save Our Citrus free iPhone app, enables residents to identify and report citrus diseases.

About Save Our Citrus:
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) recently launched an updated 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
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