City of Riverside staff draped a synthetic screen on a steel frame to encompass the 'parent navel' orange tree at the corner of Arlington and Magnolia avenues in Riverside to protect it from Asian citrus psyllids that spread huanglongbing disease, reported Ryan Hagen in the Riverside Press-Enterprise. Huanglongbing (HLB) is a devastating bacterial disease of citrus that is starting to spread rapidly in urban areas of Southern California.
The newly covered tree is valued for its status as an early ancestor of all Washington navel orange trees.
UC Cooperative Extension specialist Georgios Vidalakis, the UC Presidential Researcher for Sustainable Citrus Clonal Protection, was on site when the tree was enclosed within the new cover.
“This one will buy us a few years so the city can design a more elegant structure like you see in arboretums — maybe a wood hexagonal pavilion that will be aesthetically more pleasant,” Vidalakis said. “Unless in the next few years we find a solution.”
UC Agriculture and Natural Resources specialists and advisors are working with the citrus industry, USDA and CDFA to control ACP populations and keep HLB contained while researchers search for a cure for the disease.