Friday, January 22, 2010

Don't Bring that Plant in Here!

With Spring just around the corner, and all the snow birds down here in South Carolina and ESPECIALLY in Florida, I thought it would be a good time to revisit this article. The majority of this was from an article I wrote for the Master Gardener Newsletter back in the early part of 2009.
Back on March 10, 2009 a Newark, NJ Customs and Border Protection Agriculture Specialist discovered a plant bug, Hallodapus sp (Miridae) on a
commercial importation of thyme from Israel. The discovery of this
insect is the first of its kind in the nation. This species was
described as a quarantine pest that had the potential to cause economic
damage to a trillion dollar agriculture industry.
The discovery of a new pest or disease is nothing new for
agriculture specialists who have extensive training and expertise in
agriculture inspection.
Customs and Border Protection Agriculture Specialists at the Port
of Gulfport, MS recently made a significant and important interception
in a shipment of organic bananas from Colombia, South America during a
container tailgate inspection. During the routine inspection, alert
agriculture specialists discovered the insect, Faustinus rhombifer
Champion (Curculionidae). The insect was submitted to USDA for
identification. Similar species feed on the vegetation, stems and leaves
of a multitude of plants.
I wrote this article with the fact that the Asian Citrus Psyllid
and Citrus Greening disease have recently been found in Charleston
County, South Carolina. Both of these pests were indigenous to the Far East and Asia.
It got me to thinking of just how Exotic pests and diseases can very
easily be brought into this country and nobody knows for certain what
one of these newly introduced pests will destroy.
It also brings to mind how important it is to have quarantines in
place and why bringing plants into this country is so dangerous. Yes, it
is "Just one little plant" but that plant could have a pregnant bug or
some kind of disease on it that could wipe out the entire (Place your
favorite plant here) species.
Once a quarantine is in place, there is a VERY good reason why. I
don't know for sure, but I would be willing to bet that somebody thought
that cute little citrus tree that was bought in Florida and brought up
I-95 wouldn't hurt anything. Or that a citrus tree smuggled in a
suitcase from Asia brought to Florida wouldn't amount to any trouble.
Don't get me wrong I love trying new and exotic plants and when new
ones are introduced I am first in line. But please, only buy from
reputable breeders and nurseries. Let the experts find out if there is
any bugs or diseases on those newly discovered plants. Learn the laws
and regulations of plant importation. Pass this on to anybody that you
talk to about plants. If you do ANY traveling abroad and go to a nursery
there, remember...DON'T BRING THAT PLANT IN HERE!
I hope this will get you to think about transporting plants across state lines also. Just for the record, It is ILLEGAL to transport any Citrus Tree, leaves, stems or any other part of the plant out of the state of Florida. Fruit bought, usually has been inspected and declared okay to transport. Please don't stop along the road and pick any fruit and bring it could be carrying something. I will have more on the quarantines and such in later postings.
Happy Growing!

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