Residential Citrus Growers Help USDA Stop the Spread of Citrus Disease

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Tips on Distinguishing the Symptoms of Citrus Greening Disease

USDA recognizes that enlisting the help of the public to prevent the spread of citrus greening disease is crucial to protecting the nation’s citrus.

Individuals with citrus trees growing in their yards reported 540 suspected cases of citrus disease through the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Save Our Citrus website and smart phone reporting application, available in both English and Spanish.

Nearly 85 percent of reports have come from residents in the two top citrus producing states—California and Florida. However, submissions were received from 16 other states, even one report from Alaska. Of these reported cases, 14 were confirmed to be citrus greening disease, also known as Huanglongbing (HLB).

Citrus greening is one of the most severe plant diseases in the world. A 2012 University of Florida study estimates that citrus greening has cost Florida more than $4.5 billion since 2006 in crop losses and income to growers and citrus-related businesses. In California, the first case of citrus greening was confirmed in March 2012, and the disease has also been detected in Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, and South Carolina, as well as Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Economically, all of these states could face tremendous losses from citrus greening. These losses would likely have a significant impact on the tens of thousands of jobs supported by citrus and its related industries.

With citrus disease spreading across the United States, it is not just commercial growers who are affected. Residential citrus growers, i.e. homeowners with one or more citrus trees in their yard or porch should also be on the lookout for signs of disease. “USDA recognizes that enlisting the help of the public to prevent the spread of citrus greening disease is crucial to protecting the nation’s citrus,” said Larry Hawkins, USDA spokesman for the Save Our Citrus campaign.

The most commonly reported symptoms of suspected citrus disease from residents are related to discoloration of the leaves. More than 60 percent of reports submitted through the Save Our Citrus program cited spotted or blotched leaves, or leathery leaves with yellow or clear veins. While these symptoms are telltale signs of citrus greening disease, abnormal looking citrus leaves can also be the result of other factors such as unfavorable weather or overwatering. This can make it difficult to distinguish serious disease from a harmless case of overwatering. To avoid confusion, a list of tips to distinguish common leaf problems has been added to the Save Our Citrus website today and can be accessed at:

Larry Hawkins, USDA spokesman for the Save Our Citrus campaign added, “Remember, if you suspect your tree may be infected, please don’t hesitate to report it through the Save Our Citrus website or iPhone app. A mistaken case of disease is harmless compared to an undetected disease that spreads to other healthy trees.”

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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