By TIM HEARDEN
SACRAMENTO -- The state Department of Food and Agriculture has imposed a quarantine on areas near Porterville, Calif., where six Asian citrus psyllids were discovered earlier this summer.
The quarantine zone measures 178 square miles, from which host nursery stock are prohibited from being shipped except for nursery stock and budwood grown in U.S. Department of Agriculture-approved structures designed to keep the psyllid out.
All citrus fruit has to be cleared of leaves and stems prior to moving out of the area. Residents with backyard citrus trees in the quarantine area are asked not to take fruit out of the zone, a state news release explains.
The quarantine will be in place for at least two years, as CDFA officials will monitor traps after concluding residential treatments, agency spokesman Steve Lyle said.
"That period is based on the life cycle of the pest," Lyle told the Capital Press in an email. "If we find more psyllids between now and then, the clock re-sets."
The quarantine announcement Aug. 1 comes after state and federal officials met with farmers on July 30 to let them know the quarantine was imminent, the California Farm Bureau Federation reported.
The restrictions are similar to those in hold orders placed on fruit and plants in the area immediately after the psyllids were found in three locations southeast of Porterville in late June and confirmed in mid-July. Asian citrus psyllids generally don't harm fruit, but they can carry the plant disease huanglongbing, which causes citrus greening and eventually kills the tree.
At least 22 growers operate within the eradication areas, Tulare County assistant agricultural commissioner Tom Tucker has said. However, most of those areas are in navel oranges that have already been harvested. Similarly, most of the nursery plants in development for growers this season have already moved out, California Citrus Mutual president Joel Nelsen has said.
Asian citrus psyllids were trapped for the first time in the state's citrus belt last November, causing the state initially to restrict movement of citrus within a 20-mile radius of the finds. The restricted movement area was later reduced to five miles as an interim approach to limiting the spread of the pest.
Last spring, the USDA confirmed after a week of testing that citrus greening was detected in a lemon-grapefruit hybrid tree in a residential neighborhood of Los Angeles.
In all, more than 45,000 square miles within California are under an ACP-related quarantine, including areas in Ventura, Santa Barbara, San Diego, Imperial, Orange, Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Riverside counties, according to the CDFA.
The quarantine zone in Tulare County is bordered on the north by an area near Blue Ridge Drive and Campbell Creek Drive; on the east by an area near State Highway 190 and Coyote Drive; on the south by Avenue 68 near State Highway 65; and on the west by an area near Avenue 104 and Road 192.
Area residents who think they may have seen the Asian citrus psyllid are asked to call CDFA's Pest Hotline at (800) 491-1899.
CDFA Asian citrus psyllid information: http://www.cdfa.ca.gov/plant/acp/index.html
Tulare County quarantine area map: http://www.cdfa.ca.gov/plant/acp/maps/quarantine/3435ACP_Tulare_20130730.pdf