USDA To Halt Spread Of SOD

January 7, 2005 - 11:55

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced it is regulating the interstate movement of plants from commercial nurseries in California, Oregon and Washington to prevent the spread of Phytophthora ramorum, or sudden oak death (SOD), to non-infested areas of the United States.

Under the new federal order, California, Oregon and Washington nursery owners who ship P. ramorum host and associated host plants interstate must have their nursery stock inspected, sampled and tested by state officials before those plants can be transported across state lines. According to Nolan Lemon, APHIS spokesperson, “It will impact primarily woody and perennial growers in the states of California, Oregon and Washington. Because nursery stock is more seasonal, it will not be inspected with every shipment but at certain points of the season, and those inspections will be conducted by the respective division of plant industries or departments of agriculture in those states.” In addition, nurseries that ship non-host plants interstate must undergo a visual inspection to ensure those plants are not exhibiting P. ramorum symptoms before interstate shipment. The order will go into effect on Jan. 10, 2005.

Currently, there are approximately 68 plant species that have been affected by this disease. However, at this point it only affects woodies and perennials; there is no current evidence that it affects any plants in the floriculture industry. GPNspoke to a number of industry breeder/marketers with facilities in California, as well as Lemon, to make sure that these new shipping regulations did not affect them in any way. At this point, we have been getting “no” answers all around, adding a little sigh of relief to growers all over the country.

The new measures address the discovery of the P. ramorum pathogen in commercial nurseries in Washington and in nurseries outside of the already-established quarantined areas in California and Oregon. This action also puts new restrictions on nurseries in the quarantined areas that ship non-host nursery stock interstate.

In April, APHIS restricted the interstate movement of several varieties of P. ramorum hosts and associated plants from California nurseries to prevent further spread of the disease, while California Department of Food and Agriculture and federal officials traced infected plants nationally.

P. ramorum was first seen in Mill Valley, Calif., on tanoak in 1995. The fungus is now known to exist in nature in 14 northern California counties and in Curry County, Ore. Those counties are under a federal quarantine to prevent the movement of regulated and restricted articles.

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