The Horticultural Research Institute (HRI), the research division of the American Nursery & Landscape Association (ANLA), has convened a national working group to explore the role of nursery management practices in the battle to limit the spread of Phytophthora ramorum, the fungus-like pathogen associated with oak mortality and plant disease in the United States. The working group is comprised of diverse representatives from the nursery industry from across the country, with key technical and research experts from USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS); Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS); Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES); and the National Plant Board also invited to participate.
The working group met on Oct. 25 and 26, 2005, to review the current regulatory status of P. ramorum and the status of ongoing research initiatives in preparation for a discussion on the role of “recommended management practices” (RMP’s) in disease prevention, rapid detection, containment and elimination in nurseries. The working group evaluated and fine-tuned existing best-management practices that have been developed in California, Oregon and elsewhere. Individual management practices were considered for their conformance with key “filters,” or evaluative criteria, such as their scientific basis and relevance for industry across the country.
“While this work is obviously of critical importance to protect growers, it is also of key interest to garden centers and landscape firms who rely on the timely availability of disease-free plant material to drive seasonal sales and complete installations,” said Craig Regelbrugge, ANLA senior director of government relations. “Retail and landscape companies want to avoid the losses and disruptions that have resulted when plant shipments have been suspected of harboring P. ramorum.”
The goal of the HRI working group is to develop a basic menu of RMPs that can be used by nurseries nationwide to establish or improve best-management practices plan. HRI and ANLA expect to distribute the early recommendations of this working group in January 2006. These guidelines will be reviewed and expanded as new research results and practical experience come to light. Longer-term goals for ANLA and HRI are to build a working model for response to emerging plant pests and to consider how quality assurance systems may contribute to future nursery inspection, certification and quarantine programs.