Citrus Pest & Disease Prevention Program — The United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has confirmed the presence of citrus canker disease in a nursery in South Carolina. The nursery sells plants to consumers through online sales, including four locations in California since August 2021. Retail nurseries did not receive these plants.
Citrus canker causes citrus leaves and fruit to drop prematurely, and results in lesions on citrus leaves, stems and fruit. Fruit infected with the bacterium that causes citrus canker (Xanthomonas axonopodis) is safe to eat, but it may not be marketable because of the lesions. The disease affects all citrus varieties. Citrus canker is not harmful to people or animals.
Together with state partners, APHIS is working to collect and destroy the plants shipped to consumers in 11 states and trace plants that were sold to determine additional locations of potentially infected plants. The states include Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas and Washington.
The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) was notified that four residential properties throughout the state had ordered citrus nursery stock from the South Carolina nursery. Upon being notified of the recall, CDFA staff successfully verified that one order was not filled, removed and destroyed the recalled trees from two of the three remaining residential properties and is working to connect with the recipients of the final shipment (as of March 9). All additional host plants on these properties were surveyed and sampled for citrus canker disease and submitted for analysis, and delimitation surveys will also be conducted around these locations. These swift actions by APHIS and CDFA are focused on protecting the citrus industry as well as nurseries and other establishments that sell citrus plants wholesale and direct to consumers.
Currently, citrus canker is found throughout Florida and in limited areas of Louisiana and Texas. APHIS is working with state partners to contain the disease, and federal and state quarantines exist in these states. Additionally, citrus canker was recently confirmed in Alabama, and APHIS is working with state partners to establish a federal quarantine to parallel the state quarantine.
If you live in one of the 11 states and bought citrus plants online that came from South Carolina between Aug. 5, 2021 – Feb. 17, 2022, please keep your plants for now. If you purchased a plant or plants that might be infected, APHIS and/or state officials will contact you in the next several days to collect and properly dispose of any plants purchased from the nursery. You can also call your local USDA office with additional questions. Contact information can be found at www.aphis.usda.gov/planthealth/sphd.
To learn more about APHIS’ regulations for citrus canker, please visit https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/planthealth/plant-pest-and-disease-programs/pests-and-diseases/citrus/citrus-canker.
For questions about citrus canker in California or other pests or diseases, please call CDFA’s toll-free Pest Hotline at 1-800-491-1899.