Honey bee on citrus blossom

Popular with bees and on parade floats, citrus materials have been barred from Tournament of Roses Parade floats because of a regulatory quarantine for Huanglongbing.

Citrus materials banned from Rose Parade floats

Perhaps for the first time in the 100-plus year history of the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, Calif. the beautiful floats adorned with live plants and seeds will not include citrus materials because of a regulatory quarantine.

When the disease Huanglongbing was discovered in nearly a dozen trees in nearby San Gabriel earlier this year, state officials drew up a quarantine map to restrict the movement of citrus materials in and out of a 180-square mile zone in the San Gabriel Valley.

The purpose is self-explanatory: officials rightfully want to hold HLB at bay. The disease has heavily impacted Florida’s citrus industry and California officials are trying not to be drug down that same path.

The quarantine zone includes the entire 5.5 mile parade route. Both roads along the parade route – Orange Grove Blvd. and Colorado Blvd. – are within the HLB quarantine zone.

After looking at the maps drawn up by the state earlier this summer, I noticed this and began calling around to see how it might impact the famed parade. A natural place for me to turn was California Citrus Mutual, a trade organization heavily involved in issues surrounding HLB and the tiny pest that vectors the disease.

CCM Public Affairs Director Alyssa Houtby tells Western Farm Press that the organization reached out to parade coordinators and they agreed to enforce a no-citrus policy on floats in the parade. Staff from the Los Angeles County Department of Agriculture will be on hand to inspect the floats.

The Rose Parade celebrates its 127th year in 2016 as perhaps America’s quintessential and iconic parade.

According to the Tournament of Roses Association, the parade began as a means to promote California’s Mediterranean climate and its ability to grow flowers and other items, even in the winter.

In 1890, members of Pasadena’s Valley Hunt Club dreamt up a way to promote California’s climate and its flowers in the midst of winter. A parade was formed wherein entrants decorated carriages with hundreds of blooms.

Five years after the Valley Hunt Club formed its celebration the Tournament of Roses Association was formed to handle the growing enterprise.

Since then, the parade has become iconic for its elaborate floats with computer technology and animations. It’s come a long way from the “hundreds of blooms” that adorned horse-drawn carriages in a region that was heavily planted in citrus groves until about the mid-20th Century.

Because of the popularity of citrus plants in southern California, the floats have included plant materials from citrus, which has grown in and around Pasadena for at least as long as the famed parade has been heralding the New Year.

The discovery of a deadly citrus disease within a few minutes’ drive of Pasadena should rightfully worry those in the area with citrus trees – which is pretty much everyone. It should, however, not dampen what is certain to be a remarkable parade to mark the New Year.

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