New Jersey Department of Agriculture Secretary Charles M. Kuperus has announced the first detection of Sudden Oak Death (SOD) in New Jersey. One lilac bush at a Cape May County nursery tested positive for the disease, out of more than 2,100 plants tested in 13 counties.
"We are concerned about the potential impact of this disease in New Jersey's forests and landscapes, since it is unknown how the disease would develop on the East Coast," said Kuperus. "We are following the USDA protocol in following up on the detection to ensure the disease does not spread."
SOD first became a concern in New Jersey when large wholesale and mail order nurseries in California infected with the disease shipped suspect plants to the state in 2003. The Cape May County nursery where the infected lilac bush was discovered had received six plants from the California lot. However, those six plants had been sold before New Jersey's testing program began.
All susceptible host plants at the Cape May County nursery have been pulled off the market until they can be tested further. Plants in the lot where the diseased lilac was found will be destroyed. Other plants tested in the lot came back negative for SOD. Plants inside the nursery and plants around the outside perimeter of the nursery will also be tested.
"Consumers should continue their normal spring planting of trees, shrubs, annuals and perennials," assured Kuperus. "Only one out of 40 samples taken at the effected nursery tested positive for the disease. The [New Jersey] Department [of Agriculture] is working with USDA, Rutgers and the nursery industry and will continue our statewide surveillance."