Arizona Food Banks Welcome Citrus Donations Again

By Casey Kuhn
Published: Wednesday, June 8, 2016 - 5:21pm
Updated: Wednesday, June 15, 2016 - 3:47pm
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(Photo by Brian McGrew - Arizona Department of Agriculture)
Asian citrus psyllid.

Citrus greening disease has devastated the citrus crops in Florida, but hasn’t hit Arizona yet. A new quarantine means the state's food banks can start accepting citrus again.

Most of Arizona’s citrus trees can be found right in residential neighborhoods, with the rest in commercial fields such as those in Yuma. None have been hit by the devastating citrus greening disease, so far.

MORE: Scientists Test Wasp In Arizona As A Tool Against Citrus Greening

The small bug that carries the disease, the Asian citrus psyllid, can now be found across Arizona, prompting a statewide quarantine of the fruits.

Previous quarantines led food banks to stop accepting individual citrus donations to avoid spreading the bugs that can carry the disease.

That didn’t work, and now the pest can be found across the state. The quarantines were patchy, meaning citrus from some parts of the state couldn’t travel to others.

Now, it can, which is good news for food banks like St. Mary’s in Phoenix, which spokesman Jerry Brown said had to stop accepting individual citrus donations.

“It forced us to be more creative in the way we accepted our citrus. And also cost us more to go and get that citrus because we had to do it all ourselves," Brown said. "It’s definitely going to make life easier for us next year."

Brown said St. Mary's saw a drop in the amount of citrus they took in this year and expects next year's numbers to be back to normal.

“Next December when the growing season begins again, we’ll be back open for business for folks who would like to make donations to the food bank,” said Brown.

The quarantine forbids citrus coming in from other states.

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