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Deadly Citrus Pest Puts Placer County Orchards At Risk

PLACER COUNTY (CBS13) – A deadly pest to citrus trees has made its way to Roseville and a spread of disease could wipe out prized orchards in the foothills.

"They decided to grow citrus fruits which was pretty unheard of at the time," said Tom Aguilar, a second-generation farmer at Mandarin Hill Orchard in Penryn.

Aguilar grows and sells citrus on his farm and hopes his children carry on the tradition.

"Dad can't live forever," he said.

Among the ups and downs of being a farmer, now an invasive bug could wipe out those dreams.

"I don't even know all what I'd have to do, but it would be bad," he said.

The Asian citrus psyllid was found in a Roseville trap last month. Prior to that in an orchard in Lincoln.

"That's a really sad story because somebody brought three potted citrus trees from Orange County. They had quarantined tags on them," said Josh Huntsinger, Placer County's Ag Commissioner.

The $75 plants that were purchased and moved caused a $100,000 disaster.

If the psyllid spread a disease it could decimate entire orchards.

"Florida's citrus industry just had [an] extremely devastating impact," Huntsinger said.

Which is why they're getting ahead of the bug before it can spread.

"The saving grace in this is that we have the insect that spreads the disease, but we don't have the disease itself here," he said.

While it's not quite hurting the commercial farmers yet, it does affect the nurseries in the quarantined area. All plants must be tagged and can't be moved out of the area.

"These plants that are in the Roseville area are clean, we just want to make sure they're kept in the quarantined area just in case there's a psyllid out there," said Greg Gayton, a Green Acres Spokesman.

Aguilar wants to make sure the bugs stay away from his citrus trees and hopes the public follows the law. The quarantined area begins in Roseville and extends to parts of Placer County to the west.

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