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East County News Service

April 12, 2017 (San Diego’s East County) – San Diego Supervisors on Wednesday approved formation of a special district to combat the Asian citrus psyllid, an agricultural pest that threatens our county’s $126 million citrus crop.

Supervisors took the action in response to a petition signed by commercial growers in Borrego Springs, San Pasqual Valley and Pauma Valley. 

The growers, who own 80% of the citrus acreage in our region, asked the county to create the district to provide legal authority for working to eradicate the Asian citrus psyllid.

The pest can transmit Huanglongbing, also known as citrus greening disease. The disease kills citrus trees and has wiped out groves in other parts of the world.  In Florida alone, the disease caused an estimated loss of 3.6 billion dollars to the economy.

 Our county is currently under quarantine because the pest has been found here, but so far, no cases of the dreaded citrus greening disease have been found here.

But ominously, the bacteria responsible for the disease has been found in parts of Los Angeles County. 

Supervisors approved the special district on the consent calendar.   On May 3rd, any protests to the action will be heard.  The district would be funded by the agricultural land owners and would devise a plan for combating the pest, a budget, and ways to assess the program’s success.

The Asian citrus psyllid is small, measuring only about 1/8 of an inch in length.  It’s brown and produces a white, waxy substance that leaves a soot-like black mold on leaves.  Leaves become twisted and yellowed, while fruit on infected trees can stay green and be deformed.  Ants have a symbiotic relationship that protects the psyllids, so citrus tree owners are advised to keep ants off of citrus trees.

For more information on Asian citrus psyllids and how to protect your citrus trees, you can visit www.CaliforniaCitrusThreat.org.