A small area in the Gila Bend area is the first portion of Maricopa County, Ariz. in the central part of the state now under quarantine due to the pesky, disease-carrying citrus insect – the Asian citrus psyllid (ACP).
More than 22,000 square miles in Arizona are now under quarantine for the ACP which carries Liberibacter bacteria to citrus trees resulting in Huanglongbing disease (HLB) – a devastating disease fatal to every HLB-infected citrus tree.
There is no cure for HLB – currently the world’s worst citrus threat.
Statewide, ACP quarantine areas include land areas in the southern and western parts of Arizona from Santa Cruz to Yuma to Mohave Counties and now Maricopa County.
“We’ve all done a good job slowing the progress of the insect, but we have to do more,” said John Caravetta, the Arizona Department of Agriculture’s associate director for plant services.
“We urge the public to not take citrus fruit, plants or cuttings from the areas within the quarantines,” Caravetta says. “We have too much at stake to not pay attention to the immense threat of this tiny insect.”
The Arizona Department of Agriculture and federal partners first discovered the ballpoint pen-sized insect in Arizona in November 2009.
While the ACP pest continues to spread in the Grand Canyon State, HLB disease has not been found. Yet, the presence of the insect means the ACP could spread HFB if found.
The Arizona commercial citrus industry is a $37 million dollar business – mostly lemons in the Yuma area, plus other citrus varieties in the state’s southern and central reaches.
State quarantines restrict movement of potential carriers of the pest. The State of Arizona requires the treatment of any commercial citrus groves or nursery where the ACP has been detected.
The ADA says the best way to buy citrus plants (for commercial or residential use) is through local nurseries and garden centers which have the best-suited varieties for Arizona’s climate and soils.