HLB, the deadly citrus greening disease that has devastated the Florida citrus industry over the past decade, has turned up in Riverside County, CA and La Banda, Santiago del Estero, Argentina over the last few days.

While HLB has previously been known to be present in California, it had been confined to suburban Los Angeles and presented no threat to the state’s citrus industry.

But the California Citrus Pest & Disease Prevention Program confirmed Huanglongbing (HLB) was found in a sample collected July 10 from a grapefruit tree in a residential neighborhood in the city of Riverside, the state’s historic home of citrus.

Ugly and lethal: The Asian citrus psyllid; (Above Photo) SENASA workers treat an infected myrtle tree

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) and the USDA confirmed the HLB find. In cooperation with the Riverside County Agricultural Commissioner’s Office and USDA, CDFA has begun an extensive survey and treatment program. Crews will remove and dispose of the infected tree and are preparing to treat citrus trees within 800 feet for infestations of the Asian Citrus Psyllid (ACP), the pest that spreads the disease.

A quarantine will be established in the area where HLB was detected prohibiting the sale of all host nursery stock and the movement of all host plants and fruits within a five-mile radius of the find for residents and commercial operations alike.

CDFA, in partnership with local agricultural commissioners, USDA and the citrus industry, continues to pursue its strategy of controlling the spread of ACP while researchers work to find a cure for the disease.

Meanwhile, Argentina’s National Food Safety and Quality Service (SENASA) found HLB in La Banda, Santiago del Estero, and the host plant, a myrtle tree, was immediately sprayed, incinerated and its stump also sprayed with insecticide to eliminate any trace of the vector ACP.

Part of Santiago del Estero lies just outside the major lemon-exporting province of Tucumán. The Trump administration recently overturned a ban against the import of lemons from Argentina into the U.S.

There is no word if this finding will impact that decision but, in addition to applications of a Plant Transit Document system, the area will not be allowed to move unprocessed citrus fruit from the region to areas that are pest-free.

The access arrangement for exports from Northeast Argentina (NOA) to the U.S. includes the provinces of Tucumán, Salta, Jujuy and Catamarca.

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