USDA Announces the Kickoff to Citrus Health

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Save Our Citrus program offers five tips for unbeatable growth.

Citrus Greening; Citrus Diseases; HLB; Citrus Health

Kickoff to Citrus Health

The USDA’s Save Our Citrus iPhone App offers a convenient way for people to identify and report suspected citrus disease.

Ready, set, hike! With football season upon us, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) wants to help you “kick off” your citrus’ health. Whether you are a rookie or seasoned veteran when it comes to growing fruit, following these simple tips can help your citrus have a winning season.

1. Draft an all-pro citrus team
Dwarf varieties are often preferable for backyard growing because they take up less space, do not grow as tall, and are easier and safer to pick. When purchasing citrus trees, buying a healthy tree from a reputable seller is critical. If you are ordering a citrus tree, make sure the nursery or shipper is in compliance with federal quarantine restrictions.

2. Prep your home turf
Citrus trees can grow in the ground or in containers. They are happy in practically any soil, as long as there is adequate drainage. In more clay-like soils, small amounts of gravel or sand can promote improved drainage.

3. Water with complete coverage
If the leaves on your citrus tree start turning yellow and fall off, this could be a result of under watering, but it is more likely from overwatering. To ensure that you are watering adequately, water trees in the ground deeply once a week and trees in containers as soon as the soil becomes dry.

4. Have a strong defense against the cold (how to prevent the freeze)
Citrus trees typically thrive in warmer states, such as California, Florida and Texas, because of their intolerance of freezing temperatures. With some exceptions depending on the variety, citrus freezes around 27-28 degrees Fahrenheit. If you suspect a freeze, cover your plants with blankets, towels, or plant covers from a nursery.

5. Don't fumble on fertilizing
Citrus/fruit tree fertilizer should be applied every three months for maximum growth and fruit production.

In addition to following these five tips, it is also very important for at-home citrus growers to regularly inspect their plants for diseases. There are four significant diseases threatening U.S. citrus: citrus greening, citrus canker, sweet orange scab and citrus black spot.

If you suspect your citrus may be diseased, report it immediately to the USDA. The USDA’s Save Our Citrus iPhone App offers a convenient way for people to identify and report suspected citrus disease. This free app is available for download from the iTunes store.

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 http://www.saveourcitrus.org.
Facebook: facebook.com/saveourcitrus    Twitter: twitter.com/saveourcitrus

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Lawrence Hawkins
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