USDA expands Florida citrus greening quarantine

02/02/2008 02:00:00 AM

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has expanded the federal citrus greening quarantine zone to include all of Florida.

The action revises the Nov. 2, 2007 federal order that quarantined 28 counties in Florida.

In 2005, the United States first detection of citrus greening occurred in Florida.  While the disease does not pose a human health risk, it greatly reduces fruit production, which results in economic losses. Once infected, there is no cure for a tree with citrus greening. Fruit from infected trees also has an off-flavor.

On Nov. 30, 2007, APHIS confirmed citrus greening in two additional Florida counties—Lake and Hernando—bringing the total number of infected counties in the state to 30.  Following discussions with the state of Florida, APHIS determined it was necessary to impose statewide restrictions on the movement of all live host plants and host plant parts from Florida.

If scientific evidence demonstrates that nursery stock can be handled in a way that prevents the risk of spreading citrus greening, APHIS would pursue rulemaking to allow the interstate movement of plants. Until these requirements are established, nursery stock from areas quarantined for citrus greening only can be moved interstate for immediate export accompanied by a limited permit that prevents distribution to any citrus-producing states or territories.

The interstate movement of citrus fruit is not restricted by the federal order. But under the federal citrus canker quarantine, fresh citrus from Florida must meet certain requirements and cannot be shipped to any citrus-producing states or territories.

The federal order also maintains a quarantine for the Asian citrus psyllid for all of Florida along with Guam, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and 32 counties in Texas. 

On Nov. 30, 2007, Texas established a parallel quarantine, restricting the intrastate movement of psyllid-host material to prevent the spread of the disease to additional Texas counties.  The psyllid s a serious citrus pest, as well as the main vector of citrus greening.  Although the pest has been detected in these areas, citrus greening only has been found in Florida.

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