December 2015The Arizona Republic’s December 9, 2015 newspaper headliner read:
"Pest leads food banks to turn away citrus"
The article stated that citrus fruit donated would only be accepted from commercial growers or approved donors. The reason being, the Asian Citrus Psyllid, an insect which acts as a vector for the bacterial disease known as Citrus Greening. This insect has been seen in parts of Maricopa County, and Buckeye, Wittman, and Gila Bend. The citrus greening bacteria, carried by the Asian Citrus Psyllid, kills citrus trees, and causes the citrus fruit to be very small, and makes the fruit taste bad. The disease has been devastating, killing over 150,000 acres of citrus in Florida. A quarantine is in effect, since
April, in the counties of Maricopa, Mohave, Pima, Santa Cruz, Yavapai, Yuma, and portions of La Paz. This is why the food banks want to limit the fruit donations to the nonquarantined areas.
Citrus fruit will be accepted by Valley Food Banks if folks call and make a reservation to have their trees gleaned. The fruit from backyards in the quarantined areas is safe to eat.. The food banks cannot accept fruit from quarantined areas, because of the possibility of spreading the bug.
There has been NO cases of citrus greening reported in Arizona, despite the presence of the Asian Citrus Psyllid, in areas of the state. The Department of Agriculture monitors commercial orchards, and backyard gardeners trees’ with sticky traps. Their vigilance will help to identify the insect, and hopefully help to curtail this insect.
Information From Arizona Department of Agriculture
- The Asian Citrus Psyllid is a vector for the bacterial disease Known as Cirrus Greening.
- The disease will cause fruit to have a bitter taste, be misshapen and not ripen fully.
- The Asian Citrus Psyllid has been detected in other locations, such as: Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Guam, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, Alabama, Louisiana, Texas, California and Mexico.
- In recent years, the Psyllid has been detected inn Gila Bend, Arizona. However, the bacterial disease that it can carry – has NOT been detected in Arizona.
- Also, nature may protect Arizona’s citrus from the disease since Citrus Greening is less common in hot areas compared to cooler parts of the country. (Heat can also change how citrus trees grow. High temperatures paired with low humidity can slow growth during the summer. And psyllid prefer to feed on new tree tissue.)
- Additional Notes: The disease can spread by the Psyllid insects or grafting diseased budwood. The disease does NOT spread by casual contamination of personnel and tools or by wind and rain.
- For more information: www.asda.gov/PSD/acp.htm