Import permits

Fri, 22 Feb 2013 18:36:34 PST
We're a certified nursery as is every nursery in the US that ships interstate, or exports to Canada. We are inspected every year for Phytopthera ramorum, (Sudden Oak Death), an introduced fungus that infects many species including liliaceae. This disease is present in GB, the EU, Sweden, Italy, and certain locations in North America. Here the disease apparently is spread on nursery stock from commercial nurseries. We are fearful of an infection at our bare-root, field grown nursery, a positive would essentially shut down our operations until we could demonstrate the nursery is disease free. Our only defense is to essentially quarantine our nursery by only propagating from seed and avoiding any plant material import, also keeping customer cars and trucks away from our fields since the disease is soil borne. In neighboring British Columbia, standards for commercial nurseries are even more restrictive than here in Washington. 

Before the annual inspection by APHIS, here in the US anyway,  many commercial nurseries apply heavy doses of fungicides that suppress these fungi, making it unlikely, even if the disease is present it will  be detected. There are millions of dollars at stake for the nurseryman. As a result nursery stock is the primary agent of distribution for this disease. Nurseries who ship intrastate only and individuals moving plants around are not regulated. This disease in warm, humid climates like coastal northern California, has escaped to native plant populations. This is a serious problem, one that I have been told by APHIS that eventually we will lose. In certain California locations, the disease is endemic in native flora surrounding commercial nurseries and gardens. 

I have no problem bringing seed onto our farm. A good seed collection is totally clean.Any debris collected in the seed cleaning  process should be burned or sent to a landfill. Once the disease becomes established in our native plant populations, our viburmums, maples, rhododendrons, douglas fir and many, many perennials seed acquisition for our seed propagation of native plants will become very difficult. Just from the standpoint of this single disease I think the standards should be expanded to include movement of live plant material from all nurseries and private gardens. Current standards have been a political decision that will eventually bite us all. 

Unfortunately diagnosis of this disease is very difficult. Symptoms vary greatly between species. In a briefing from APHIS last year we were told the list of susceptible plant species and families keeps expanding and will likely continue.  I would suggest when bringing plant material on to your garden it  be isolated for a period if time and to submit any diseased material for diagnosis. And please let the regulatory system function. 

Rich H
Bellingham, Wa.,


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