USDA Urges Louisiana “Don’t Go Green”

July 2, 2013

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

Sacramento, CA (PRWEB) July 02, 2013

Today the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) launched a new effort in Louisiana to raise awareness about the threat of citrus greening disease, also known as Huanglongbing (HLB). Residents are urged “Don’t Go Green!” because “Louisiana Citrus is at Risk.”

In 2012, Louisiana produced $5.2 million in citrus crops, including satsumas, lemons, navel and Louisiana sweet oranges, grapefruit and kumquats. Citrus greening disease has the potential to devastate Louisiana’s commercial citrus industry. This would have a detrimental impact to the state’s economy and lead to many lost jobs.

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 other parts of 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 Louisianans will take time to learn about the disease because residents are the first line of defense in stopping the spread of citrus diseases."

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

1. Be Aware of Quarantines. Currently two parishes are under federal and state quarantine for citrus greening disease – Orleans and Washington – and the entire state is under federal quarantine for Asian citrus psyllid. Do not move citrus trees, fruit or trimmings from quarantine 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 mottling 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 reputable Louisiana sources that have a current state permit to grow or sell plants. 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 federal 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 a 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/prweb10880795.htm

Source: prweb

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