Hide ya’ lemons, hide ya’ limes — a deadly disease is coming for California’s citrus trees.
State ag experts recently found a tree that tested positive for Huanglongbing–and yes, it is way more serious than its sing-songy name suggests. The bacteria, also known as citrus greening or yellow dragon disease, attacks a trees’ vascular system and kills them off within a few years. The disease has no known cure, and it’s had disastrous impacts on citrus trees in China, Brazil, and Florida.
For now scientists have only spotted the infection in a lonely tree, but the situation is understandably sending state officials into full-blown panic mode. California produces 80 percent of America’s citrus fruits and the majority of its fresh-market oranges. Killing citrus trees would wipe out a $2 billion industry in the state.
The diseased tree in Hacienda Heights was removed, and officials are keeping a close watch on 400 to 500 other trees they suspect may have been infected …
State agricultural officials have set up a quarantine area of some 20,700 square miles (53,600 square km) to prevent potentially infected fruit from leaving a region that spans six California counties.
Take a look at what’s happening in Florida and it’s easy to understand why California officials are going to such Contagion-like extremes. Huanglongbing hit Florida’s oranges in 2005. The deadly disease has been racking up billions of dollars in crop losses ever since then.