USDA Encourages Californians to Celebrate the Red, White, Blue but NOT GREEN

July 2, 2013

Keep the lemonade flowing this Fourth of July – Save Our Citrus raises awareness of citrus greening

Sacramento, CA (PRWEB) July 02, 2013

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) encourages Californians to make this Fourth of July a celebration of citrus—while also raising awareness of the serious threat citrus greening disease, also known as Huanglongbing (HLB) poses to citrus.

From the lemons we use to make lemonade to the limes we make key lime pie with, citrus is at the center of our summer celebrations. The stars and stripes and fireworks would not be the same without lemon chiffon cake, fish with lemon, orange sorbet, lemon-garlic chicken and avocado lime salsa. And, as the temperatures rise, kids across American set up makeshift lemonade stands as a favorite way to earn a little spending money.

California's nearly $2 billion citrus business ranks second in the United States and citrus greening disease has the potential to devastate the commercial citrus industry. 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.

“Summer is just not the same without citrus,” said Larry Hawkins, USDA Save Our Citrus campaign spokesman. “With 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 traditions we enjoy.”

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

1. Be Aware of Quarantines. After Asian citrus psyllid discoveries in southern California, quarantines have been established in Imperial, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. Do not move citrus trees, fruit or trimmings from these areas. 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 from quarantine areas.

4. Check the Citrus Plant Supplier. Be a savvy buyer. Only buy citrus plants from a reputable, licensed California nursery. Follow instructions on the tag regarding the Asian citrus psyllid or Huanglongbing (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 http://www.aphis.usda.gov/StateOffices.

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 http://www.saveourcitrus.org.

Facebook: facebook.com/saveourcitrus    Twitter: twitter.com/saveourcitrus

For the original version on PRWeb visit: http://www.prweb.com/releases/2013/7/prweb10880350.htm

Source: prweb

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