Century-Old Riverside Citrus Collection Gets a $3.5M Donation to Protect Trees - NBC Southern California

Century-Old Riverside Citrus Collection Gets a $3.5M Donation to Protect Trees

The UCR Citrus Variety Collection, which began in 1910, is threatened by a devastating citrus-greening disease

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    Oranges are sprayed with water in this January 16, 2007 photo.

    The Swiss flavor and fragrance company Givaudan has donated $3.5 million to build a screened structure that will protect several acres of trees at the University of California, Riverside's huge citrus collection from a bug-transmitted disease.

    The university announced Thursday that the structure will protect new trees and back-up collections of the UCR Citrus Variety Collection from devastating citrus-greening disease, also known as Huanglongbing, or HLB.

    "As global leaders in citrus, protecting citrus biodiversity and creating a sustainable future is a primary focus for Givaudan," said Louis D'Amico, president of Givaudan's Flavour Division.

    The university's citrus collection was started more than 100 years ago and includes about 1,000 types of citrus on 22.3 acres on the university campus and two smaller sites.

    Los Angeles Times via Getty Imag

    The disease carried by a bug called the Asian citrus psyllid has been found just 2 1/4 miles (3.6 kilometers) away from the collection. It is caused by a bacterium carried by the tiny Asian citrus psyllid.

    The bacterium affects the way nutrients are transferred from root to tree, causing reduced yields and impacts on fruit appearance and flavor before ultimately killing trees. It is considered a threat to citrus worldwide.

    UC Riverside is east of Los Angeles in the inland region of Southern California. Its citrus collection began in 1910, when citrus production was still king in a region now overtaken by metropolitan sprawl.

    Citrus trees, however, remain a ubiquitous feature of front and back yards and the greening disease has been detected on residential properties in Los Angeles, Orange, and Riverside counties.

    More than 400 miles (644 kilometers) to the north, the California Department of Food and Agriculture on Thursday placed all of Sacramento County under quarantine following detection of an Asian citrus psyllid in the Lemon Hill area. There are now psyllid quarantines in 28 counties. 

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