FAQ - Homeowner Citrus Advice

What to Do if You Still Wish to Plant a Citrus Tree Despite HLB

For further advice and instructions, please see "Citrus Tree Care for the Home Gardener in the HLB Era" http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/PP/PP33600.pdf

What should I look for when purchasing a citrus tree?

Purchase a tree from a certified nursery that has been inspected by state and/or federal inspectors to confirm the nursery is producing clean (disease-free) plant material. Citrus trees grown in a certified nursery will have a tag stating the name of the nursery, registration number, the tree variety, and rootstock.

nursery tag to identify inspected by state and/or federal inspectors

Nursery label on citrus seedling

What Should I Do if My Tree Is Displaying Nutrient Deficiencies?

If the tree is displaying nutrient deficiencies, a soil and leaf nutrient analysis should be completed to identify which of the specific nutrients are needed. Nutrient deficiencies are often associated with the onset of HLB. If persistent nutrient deficiencies continue after adequate fertilizer is applied, it may be prudent to have the tree tested for HLB.

healthy leaf compared to nutrient deficient leaf

Leaf showing blotchy mottle (a symptom of HLB)

Will My Florida Citrus Tree Become Infected with HLB?

Most trees still become infected with HLB, even with the best care possible..

Once a citrus tree becomes infected with HLB, removal is recommended in order to reduce the source of inoculum for psyllid feeding and transmission to other trees in the area. If homeowners choose to continue to grow their infected citrus, the tree will eventually succumb to HLB and much of the fruit will be poor quality. Unfortunately, in high disease-pressure areas of Florida, it is inevitable that a citrus tree will become infected with HLB. Proper psyllid management and tree care will not prevent infection but may aid in prolonging the tree’s life.

Asian citrus psyllid

Asian citrus psyllid

What were Florida citrus groves like before HLB?

Healthy groves (shown here) had green, dense foliage, unmottled leaves, large evenly ripening fruit, and healthy root and crown growth characteristic of pre-HLB citrus in Florida.

health orange grove

Healthy citrus orchard as they appeared prior to HLB

Is it safe to eat fruit from a greening infected tree?

Yes, the fruit may be eaten. The infection may cause an off flavor similar to consuming the fruit when green.

Infected orange compared to healthy orange

This material is based upon work that is supported by the Specialty Crop Research Initiative, National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, under award number 2015-70016-23010. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The University of Florida, Auburn University, the University of Central Florida, the Ohio State University and New Mexico State University are equal opportunity educators/employers.