Arizona Citrus Quarantine Extended To Santa Cruz County

By Casey Kuhn
Published: Tuesday, January 26, 2016 - 6:20pm
Updated: Wednesday, January 27, 2016 - 8:13am
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(Photo by Brian McGrew - Arizona Department of Agriculture)
Asian citrus psyllid.

A bug carrying the disease that has devastated the citrus industry in Florida was found in California earlier this month. 

The disease is called huanglongbing, or citrus greening disease. It has no known cure and is carried by a tiny bug called the Asian citrus psyllid.

The bacteria hasn’t been found in Arizona yet but has appeared in Mexico and California.

In order to keep the bacteria out, the Arizona Department of Agriculture has a quarantine on Mohave, Yuma and parts of La Paz and Maricopa counties. Just recently, the department extended the quarantine to all of Santa Cruz County after finding the pests near Rio Rico.

“It’s a huge worry; this disease has been very devastating to Florida," Department Quarantine Director Brian McGrew said about the pest. "It’s cost them over $4 billion in lost revenues and the new finds in California could be an indication of a growing spread in that area.”

Arizona has about 10,000 acres of citrus orchards that bring in $37 million in revenue. 

But McGrew said that isn’t where most of Arizona’s citrus is planted.

"You know it’s estimated that there’s probably more trees in landscape yards than there are in commercial groves,” McGrew said.    

Those with orange or lemon trees in their yards may want to donate the excess fruit to a local food bank. But, food banks like St. Mary’s and United won’t accept donations because of the quarantine.  

April Bradham with the Association of Arizona Food Banks saidthat will have a large impact.

“It was about three and a half million pounds that they had received in donations, so we’re thinking it will be about a 40 percent impact on that,” Bradham said.

The state recommends buying local fruit and trees and not to transport citrus from California or Mexico.

A type of wasp currently is being tested to combat the pest in Yuma and western Arizona.

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