California’s agriculture is launching an effort to protect the state’s $2 billion citrus industry. Dr. Robert Leavitt, director of plant health inspection for the California Deaprtment of Food and Agriculture, said the trapping and detection program for Asian citrus psyllid (ACP) will shift to the state April 1. The proactive move is to put regulatory muscle in the program, he said.

The Citrus Research Board has been the lead agency in the ACP trapping and detection program as well as in educational outreach to urban areas. Asian citrus psyllid, vector of the deadly disease, Huanglongbing, has a foothold in the Los Angeles area.

The disease, also known as citrus greening has not been found in California. Both are present in Florida where the industry has lost thousands of acres of citrus trees. Worldwide the disease has infected more than 100 million trees. There is no cure for HLB.

Leavitt also announced that if the citrus disease Huanglongbing is found in the state, in residential or commercial citrus, there will be mandatory tree removal and area-wide treatment to knock down ACP in residential and commercial citrus. California would be the first state to take this approach in the fight against ACP and HLB.

“Area-wide treatments and removal are key to the eradication,” Leavitt told citrus growers.