CALIFORNIA – The California Department of Food and Agriculture has declared a new citrus quarantine in a 95-square-mile area of Rancho Bernardo after detecting a potentially threatening disease during routine inspections, San Diego County reported.
Local officials said the bacterial disease, known as Huanglongbing (HLB), has become a major threat to San Diego’s $115 million annual citrus crop. Infected species can produce bitter, spoiled fruit as the disease kills the tree.
This new quarantine comes after HLB was detected in a residential lime tree in the area and is in addition to the existing alert in the city of Oceanside. The containment covers the area bounded on the north by the intersection of I-15 and Auto Park Way; on the south by Poway Road; on the west by Via De Las Flores; and on the east by Lake Ramona.
The County stressed that the intent of the quarantine is to protect the region’s food supply and support the agricultural economy and environmental sustainability by restricting individuals and businesses from moving citrus nursery stock, plant parts and fruit outside of the quarantine boundaries and their property.
The only exception for shipments is for agricultural enterprises that must meet specific requirements for treatment, cleaning and packaging of commercial fruit prior to shipment.
HLB is not harmful to humans or animals, but could be devastating to the county’s citrus industry. The disease is spread by Asian citrus psyllids, tiny insects that can carry the bacteria when they feed on citrus trees.
“Unfortunately, Huanglongbing is deadly to citrus. Our goal is to prevent this disease from spreading further. By working together, we can all protect our food supply, local agriculture and the environment from this devastating disease,” said San Diego Agriculture Commissioner Ha Dang.
The county’s Department of Agriculture, Weights and Measures is partnering with state and federal regulators to limit the impact on the public and help prevent the spread of the disease. Also, local citrus growers, nurseries and other related businesses are being proactively notified.
In addition, the County reported that tree samples from the affected property and surrounding area are being tested for HLB. If confirmed in other citrus trees in the quarantine zone, state agricultural officials will follow up with treatment and removal of infected trees.
Residents in the quarantine zone were advised to take the following actions: do not move citrus plants, leaves or foliage into or out of the quarantine area; cooperate with agricultural officials who are inspecting trees, taking samples and treating for the pest; consider removing your citrus if you no longer need it; purchase citrus only from reputable local nurseries; report citrus trees that appear to be diseased or dying by contacting the San Diego Department of Agriculture, Weights and Measures.