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Citrus trees in Lakewood at critical risk

Citrus trees in Lakewood at critical risk

The devastating citrus disease Huanglongbing (HLB) was recently found in a residential citrus tree in Lakewood. Once a tree is confirmed with the disease, it will die and must be removed to limit its spread. An insect called the Asian citrus psyllid spreads the disease as it feeds on leaves.

Lakewood residents can play a critical role in stopping the spread of HLB by searching for signs of the pest and the disease on their citrus trees and cooperating with agricultural officials when they visit your property to inspect for citrus trees.

More information about what to expect from an agricultural official can be found by visiting CaliforniaCitrusThreat.org, or viewing the PDF at www.lakewoodcity.org/Citrus.

HLB is an imminent danger to California’s iconic citrus trees, both residential and commercial. The disease has been detected in L.A., Orange and Riverside counties. The number of HLB cases has skyrocketed in Southern California, with over 600 in 2018 alone; the highest amount of detections recorded in one year. Other local cities with HLB-infected trees include Cerritos, Norwalk, Pico Rivera and Whittier. 

Lakewood residents should stay vigilant in looking for HLB symptoms, which include:

  • blotchy or yellowing leaves
  • yellow shoots
  • lopsided, small and bitter fruit
  • premature and excessive fruit drop

If you see suspicious symptoms of HLB, act quickly and call the state of California’s free hotline: 800-491-1899.

In Lakewood, state and federal agriculture officials are going door-to-door to inspect for the Asian citrus psyllid and HLB. Agricultural officials will not ask to enter your home; their focus is to ensure backyard citrus trees in Lakewood get the utmost care and attention.

HLB can affect all citrus trees, including orange, lemon, lime, mandarin, pomello, kumquat, grapefruit, tangerine and more. If you have any of these plants in your backyard, inspect them monthly, or whenever watering, spraying, pruning or tending trees.

If you spot psyllid insects, visit your local nursery or garden center to get advice on products that can protect your tree.

To protect other trees, be sure to dry out citrus clippings and double bag them before removing the plant material from your property. You can also obtain citrus care advice at the University of California Extension IPM website or your area Master Gardener program office. Taking proper care of your citrus trees will encourage healthy citrus growth and protect the tree from HLB.

The main way the psyllid spreads throughout the state is by people transporting infested plants or plant material. Due to the quick nature of its spread in Southern California, all residents should avoid moving citrus from their property. California residents should only purchase citrus trees from reputable, licensed nurseries in your area. Diseased trees need to be removed in order to protect other citrus trees on the property, neighbors’ trees and the state’s vibrant commercial citrus industry.

The pest and disease are a death sentence for your backyard citrus and threaten the livelihood of California’s backyard citrus. By working together, we can all save our citrus trees. Visit CaliforniaCitrusThreat.org for additional resources and more information.