Bad news for the nearly 70 percent of California homeowners with a citrus tree: the deadly "greening disease" that wiped out trees in Florida and Asia has been found in the state, endangering urban citrus growth.
Reports from The New York Times say that the disease, which kills trees within five years and has no known cure, was found in southeastern Los Angeles county. Citrus greening, born out of Asia nearly a century ago, essentially clogs the flow of nutrients from tree to fruit. It turns the leaves yellow while the fruit remains green — and unusable. It's transmitted by a small winged insect, the Asian citrus psyllid; experts think the reason it spread to California is because of the cutting of bud-wood illegally brought into the country.
Citrus lovers and experts are worried about the lasting damange from the disease; the same disease wiped out one-tenth of Florida's crop in 2005, and lost $3.6 billion in revenue. The California citrus industry totals at about $2 billion, but the real concern is for home citrus growers because they don't use the same pesticides as growers that keep the greening disease at bay.
Citrus tree owners are told to look out for yellow mottling of leaves, and bitter, misshapen fruit. There's even an easy way to report a potential infection with the Save our Citrus app.