USDA Cautions Florida “Our Citrus Is Going Green”

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Save Our Citrus Campaign Focuses on Greening Disease (HLB) Prevention

Don't take your daily cup of orange juice or that beautiful lemon tree for granted. One of America's most precious natural resources –our citrus—is literally being attacked and destroyed by citrus greening disease.

Today the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) launched a new effort in Florida to raise awareness about the threat of citrus greening disease, also known as Huanglongbing (HLB). Residents are cautioned “Our Citrus is Going Green!” and encouraged to “Help Save Our Citrus.”

Florida produces 70 percent of the United States’ supply of citrus. The Florida citrus industry has a total economic impact of approximately $9 billion a year and directly and indirectly, generates roughly 76,000 full time and part time jobs. Citrus greening disease has the potential to devastate the industry, which would lead to thousands of lost jobs and harm the state’s economy and the entire U.S. citrus industry.    

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.

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 smaller than a mosquito—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.

"Don't take your daily cup of orange juice or that beautiful lemon tree for granted," said Larry Hawkins, USDA Save Our Citrus campaign spokesman. " One of America's most precious natural resources –our citrus—is literally being attacked and destroyed by citrus greening disease. We hope all Floridians will take time to learn about the disease because residents are the first line of defense in stopping the spread of citrus diseases." USDA works with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services on citrus saving initiatives, including the Citrus Health Response Program.

There are five things you should know to keep Florida citrus healthy:

1. Be Aware of Quarantines. The entire state of Florida is under quarantine for citrus greening disease and Asian citrus psyllid. Citrus trees, fruit or trimmings may not move into or out of Florida without a special permit. Not only are you risking spreading citrus diseases, but it's also against the law.

2. Inspect Citrus Plants Regularly for Diseases and Insects. Check plants for signs of citrus greening such as leathery-feeling leaves with yellow spots or blotches. Fruit from infected trees may be small, deformed and taste bitter. It can also retain a green color rather than ripening to the expected shades of yellow or orange. 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 home-grown citrus fruit or plants.

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

5. 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 the USDA’s State Plant Health Director's office; you can find contact information online at

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

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Lawrence Hawkins

Kristy Ranieri

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