The Labor Day weekend discovery and confirmation of several populations of the dangerous Asian citrus psyllid in San Diego County -- 11 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border near Sweetwater Reservoir -- is sending shock waves through California's citrus industry.
"This has the potential to be the death sentence for citrus trees in California," said Ted Batkin, president of the California Citrus Research Board in Visalia.
Batkin left Visalia on Wednesday to present a briefing today in Indio on the threat the pest could pose to the Coachella Valley and other citrus-growing regions of the state.
He said the hope is that the pest "can be contained to Southern California" and that its numbers can be reduced by spraying so that it does not work its way upward to the central San Joaquin Valley that is the heart of the state's $1.3 billion citrus industry, 80% of which is in the central San Joaquin Valley.
The discovery of nine psyllids in San Diego County was the first find in California.
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