Notice to Georgia County Extension Agents concerning SOD in California ornamental plant shipments.

Dr. Jean L. Williams-Woodward, Extension Plant Pathologist - Ornamentals and Forestry, University of Georgia
Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Yesterday, 3/15/04, Tommy Irvin, Commissioner of Agriculture for the Georgia Department of Agriculture (GDA) issued a quarantine against all nursery plants from California. This is in response to several California nurseries, including Monrovia Nursery in Azusa, CA testing positive for the pathogen, Phytophthora ramorum, cause of sudden oak death. Sudden oak death is a serious disease of oaks in primarily California. It can kill oaks, as well as infect numerous other host plants including rhododendron, viburnum, Pieris, mountain laurel (Kalmia), and camellia. A complete list of host plants and information about the disease can be found at the website, www.suddenoakdeath.org. The disease has the potential to infect eastern oaks and numerous other eastern plant species if introduced.

Nurseries, re-wholesalers, and retail garden centers were notified yesterday by fax of a federal stop-sale order from the GDA and USDA-APHIS if they received suspect plants from California. GDA and USDA-APHIS inspectors are visiting those nurseries placed under the stop-sale order this week to assure that suspect plants are removed from sale and are isolated from other plants. Plants within a 10-meter perimeter of the suspect plants are included in the stop-sale order. Suspect plants within a nursery should not be removed from the growing area as this may contaminate new areas. Keep plants isolated by rope or ribbons and restrict entry into the area. Suspect plants will be sampled by GDA inspectors and tested for possible P. ramorum infection. Preliminary testing of suspect samples will be conducted by Dr. Jean Williams-Woodward at the UGA Department of Plant Pathology, Plant Disease Clinic in Athens. If plants are found to be free of P. ramorum, they possibly will be re-tested, and eventually released for sale. All plants found to be infected will be destroyed. At present it is not known if any infected plants were shipped into Georgia, only that there is a chance that infected plants where shipped from California nurseries found to be infected with P. ramorum.

Dr. Jean Williams-Woodward, Associate Professor, Department of Plant Pathology, UGA has been conducting a voluntary Georgia ornamental nursery survey for P. ramorum since 2003, which is sponsored by the USDA-APHIS and the US Forest Service. No P. ramorum was identified in the nurseries or surrounding forested areas surveyed in 2003. The survey is continuing this year and will begin shortly. If county agents have nurseries in their counties, particularly in central and northern Georgia, that grow rhododendron, Kalmia, Pieris, viburnum or camellia plants and/or import these plants from the western USA or Europe and wish to have their nursery surveyed, please contact Dr. Jean Williams-Woodward at 706-542-9140 or jwoodwar@uga.edu. The purpose of the survey is to show that we do not have the pathogen within the state and in the unlikely event that it is found, that it can be eradicated.