Citrus-producing regions in the United States are at high risk for the introduction and establishment of invasive pests and diseases due to their close proximity to international ports of entry and warm climatic conditions. The goal of the Citrus Health Response Program (CHRP) is to sustain the United States citrus industry, maintain grower access to export markets, and safeguard citrus-producing areas against citrus diseases and pests.
To achieve its goals, CHRP performs multi-pest surveys in commercial and residential citrus areas to identify early infestations of exotic citrus pests for eradication, and to ensure that quarantine boundaries accurately reflect infested areas. CHRP protects the American consumer’s access to domestically-produced citrus fruit and nursery trees with regulations that limit the spread of pests to uninfested areas. USDA collaborates with state departments of agriculture and the citrus industry to safeguard the future of the American citrus industry.
Five exotic citrus pests have been established in the United States and threaten the domestic citrus industry: huanglongbing (HLB), Asian citrus psyllid (ACP), citrus canker (CC), citrus black spot (CBS), and sweet orange scab (SOS). One or more of these pests and diseases has the potential to harm every acre of citrus in the United States.
Citrus black spot is a citrus disease caused by a fungus, which affects citrus plants throughout subtropical climates, reducing both fruit quantity and quality.
Citrus canker is a citrus disease caused by a bacteria. While not harmful to humans, canker significantly affects the vitality of citrus trees, causing leaves and fruit to drop prematurely.
Citrus greening is the most serious citrus disease caused by a bacteria which is spread by the Asian citrus psyllid (ACP). ACP is a tiny insect that transmits the bacteria to the tree when feeding.
Sweet orange scab is a disease caused by a fungus, which results in scab-like lesions primary on fruit and less frequently on leaves and twigs.
Asian citrus psyllid is a tiny insect responsible for spreading citrus greening. ACP is now present in all citrus growing regions of the United States.
Huanglongbing (HLB) is spread by a tiny insect, the Asian citrus psyllid (ACP, Diaphorina citri). First detected in Florida in 1998, ACP spread to Texas in 2001, California in 2008, and Arizona in 2009. ACP is now present in all citrus growing regions of the United States.
ACP reproduce on newly developing leaves, and while the insect itself causes little direct feeding damage, the insect can carry the bacteria that causes huanglongbing (Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus, CLas). ACP can transmit HLB to uninfected citrus trees as it feeds.
Citrus black spot (CBS), which is caused by the fungal pathogen Phyllostricta citricarpa (previously known as Guignardia citricarpa) was first found in south Florida, near Immokalee, in March 2010. CBS symptoms on fruit include hard spot, cracked spot, false melanose, freckle spot or early virulent spot, and virulent spot. Symptoms of CBS are easiest to observe during color break, when fruit turns from green to ripe coloration. When trees are severely infected, CBS can cause premature fruit drop before harvest, resulting in significant yield loss.
CBS is spread when wind-borne spores embed in the leaf litter under trees and are carried long distances by air currents. Rain splash may move spores short distances from infected fruit and/or leaf litter. Human-assisted movement of fruit and infected nursery stock is the main form of long distance movement.
Citrus canker is a disease caused by the bacterium, Xanthomonas citri subspecies citri. Infection causes lesions on the leaves, stems, and fruit of citrus trees. Typical lesions of the disease are raised, tan to brown in color, and have a water-soaked margin and yellow halos. The bacteria propagate in the lesions, which ooze bacterial cells that are dispersed by windblown rain, contaminated equipment, and movement of infected plants.
While not harmful to humans, uncontrolled canker infection can significantly affect tree health, causing leaves and fruit to drop prematurely. A fruit infected with canker is safe to eat, but its appearance can decrease its marketability.
Canker originated in southeast Asia. Citrus canker was first detected in the United States in 1910 and was eradicated in 1933. It was discovered again in 1995 in Miami-Dade County, Florida. Despite an aggressive tree removal program, USDA was not able to eliminate canker in Florida a second time and ended eradication efforts in 2006. Canker is present in Florida, Louisiana, and parts of Texas.
Huanglongbing (HLB, also known as citrus greening) is the most serious citrus disease in the world and is caused by the bacterium Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus. There is no cure for this disease once a tree is infected. While the disease poses no threat to humans or animals, it has devastated millions of acres of citrus production around the world, including in the United States.
HLB has been known in Asia since 1900, and Africa since 1920. The first detection of HLB in the Americans was in Brazil in 2004. The first detection of HLB in the United States was in Florida in 2005. HLB has been detected in all the major citrus growing states in the United States, except Arizona.
Once a tree is infected with the bacteria, the tree can remain without detectable symptoms for months or years. During this symptomless phase, the tree can serve as a source of bacteria to infect other trees. Over time, an infected tree will start producing fewer fruit that are smaller, shaped irregulary, and taste bitter. Affected trees have leaves with blotchy mottling, stunted growth, root die-back, and are prone to dropping fruit before it is ripe. Trees infected with HLB will eventually succumb to the disease.
Sweet orange scab (SOS) is a disease caused by the fungus Elsinöe australis, which results in scab-like lesions primarily on fruit. The fruit are safe to eat, but the blemishes result in reduced marketability in the fresh fruit market. SOS can cause premature fruit drop and stunt young nursery trees and new field plantings.SOS was first detected in the United States in 2010 in Texas. SOS is now confirmed in Louisiana, Florida, Mississippi, Texas, Arizona, and parts of California.
Moving citrus trees is the fastest way that citrus diseases are spread. When you move citrus trees, you risk losing America’s citrus.
You Can Help Prevent Citrus Disease
If you think you have identified an infected plant, report it immediately. To avoid spreading the disease, do not move your plant. Complete the "Report It" form below or call your local USDA State Plant Health Director’s office.
Report It Form (English)
Report It Form (Espanol)
If you are younger than 18 years of age, please ask a parent, guardian or trusted adult to help you complete the form.
Thank you for helping stop the spread of citrus disease!