- Author: Ben Faber
When reviewing possible problems your citrus might have, it's easy to jump to the conclusion that it is a virus. That's because viruses are a major problem around the world in citrus and the effects can be slow, chronic and debilitating or fast and deadly. Images get posted on the web, and if those symptoms look like something your tree has, then by golly you have a virus. Well, actually viruses are everywhere and in most plants, so you probably do have a virus or viruses, but not plant debilitating one. California, has had a pretty thorough nursery inspection procedure in place for many years and the likelihood of a virus causing a problem is less likely here than in many parts of the world.
In most cases viruses are difficult to eradicate in practice, so it is best to remove them before they get out in the field. The Citrus Clonal Protection Program (http://www.ccnb.info/page.php?s=2&c=3) weeds out citrus viruses before they get to wholesale nurseries and into the trade. That does not mean that we don‘t have debilitating viruses in the California industry. We do. Tristeza is in some of our orange orchards and that can lead to significant yield reductions and tree death (http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/r107101311.html.). Tristeza is spread by the melon aphid and is hard to control without good control of the aphid. In many older orchards there is exocortis and psorosis http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/r107100100.html; http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/r107100511.html). These are graft transmissible and why it is not good, in fact unlawful, to propagate trees with uncertified budwood.
In most cases in California if you are having symptoms of unhealthy in your trees it's most likely due to an irrigation problem (too much, too little, poor timing), a nutrient deficiency and possibly a fungal disease (most likely a root one such as armillaria or Phytophthora). Or in this day, it could be the start of Huanglongbing vectored by Asian Citrus Psyllid (http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/r107304411.html). Before jumping to the conclusion that there is a virus in your trees. Check out the most common problems for California citrus first (http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/C107/m107bpleaftwigdis.html). There are enough of those anyway.