Citrus disease found in San Gabriel Valley; area quarantined

State agricultural inspectors have enacted a quarantine and are going door-to-door in a Hacienda Heights neighborhood in an effort to help save the state's $2-billion citrus industry and beloved backyard fruit trees from a disease that has wreaked havoc in Florida and Brazil.

The sale of citrus trees is banned in a five-mile radius around the Los Angeles County neighborhood where Huanglongbing, or yellow dragon disease, was first detected last week, according to the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

The bacterial blight, spread by the Asian citrus psyllid, appeared in California the way experts had long predicted — on one sickly-looking backyard tree with yellowing leaves. The disease was confirmed in a lemon-grapefruit hybrid tree March 30.

"We were waiting for the other shoe to drop, and now it's dropped," said Ted Batkin, president of the Citrus Research Board in Visalia. "We've been expecting it. But still it's a kick in the stomach. I'm reeling. It's real now."

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-- Diana Marcum and Rosanna Xia, Los Angeles Times


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