Bayer CropScience and California Citrus Mutual announced #CitrusMatters, a year-long campaign geared at raising consumer awareness of the Huanglongbing (HLB) disease and the devastating impact it could pose to California’s $2.4 billion citrus industry. The announcement was made during the Citrus Showcase, California Citrus Mutual’s annual event that brings together as many as 600 citrus growers from around the state.

The campaign will utilize an educational website, www.citrusmatters.us, and the hashtag #CitrusMatters in social media to educate California homeowners with citrus trees on their property about the important role they play in helping protect California citrus. Given that as many as 60 percent of California homeowners have citrus trees on their property, reducing the risk of infection from backyard trees to commercial citrus groves is vital to the health of the industry.

“Commercial citrus growers are already taking preventative action against HLB, but their groves will be threatened if the disease infects residential areas,” said Joel Nelsen, president of California Citrus Mutual. “Our goal is to educate homeowners about the dangers of the disease and empower them to take action to help prevent the spread of HLB in California. With the assistance of California residents, we can help protect the California citrus industry and the fresh fruit we all love.”

Now through September 30, with every share of the #CitrusMatters hashtag, Bayer CropScience will donate $1, up to $25,000, to California Citrus Mutual in support of prevention, detection and research on this devastating disease. Citrus growers are encouraged to join Bayer CropScience and California Citrus Mutual by sharing why #CitrusMatters with family, friends and neighbors who have citrus trees in their yards.
 
Transmitted by the Asian citrus psyllid, a tiny insect that feeds on the leaves and stems of citrus trees, HLB is a bacterial plant disease with no known cure. Once infected, citrus trees decline in health, produce inedible fruit and eventually die, generally in five years’ time.

Although HLB has only been found in one tree in California that has since been removed, the Asian citrus psyllid has been found in 15 California counties. Proactive management is crucial to help ensure the continued success of the California citrus industry.

“We are committed to helping prevent the spread of HLB and preserve the livelihood of California’s professional citrus growers and the state’s citrus industry,” said Rob Schrick, horticulture strategic business lead, Bayer CropScience. “We’ve seen the impact HLB has had in other markets, and through #CitrusMatters, we hope to inform and engage Californians to help prevent a similar situation in their state.”

Professional growers in California can take action and help combat the Asian citrus psyllid and HLB through preventative treatment.

To learn more about #CitrusMatters, visit citrusmatters.us.