Agriculture Department Says Pennsylvania Is Free of Plum Pox Virus in Fruit Trees; All Quarantines Lifted

October 29, 2009

BIGLERVILLE, Pa., Oct. 29 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Pennsylvania acting Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding announced today that after 10 years, the Plum Pox Virus has been eradicated in the state.

The Plum Pox Virus is a disease that severely affects stone fruit production.

Found in Adams County peach trees in 1999 — the first-ever detection of the virus in North America — the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, the United States Department of Agriculture, and Penn State University collaborated to impose a 300-square mile quarantine area, perform aggressive surveillance and develop an eradication program.

No virus has been found in the past three years, which meets the requirements to declare Pennsylvania free of the virus. Now orchard growers and residential homeowners within the quarantined area can begin replanting.

“A major milestone has been reached for Pennsylvania agriculture and this historic moment is a testament to teamwork, perseverance and science,” said Redding. “This critical mission could not have been accomplished without the cooperation of all the growers, the state and federal agriculture departments and Penn State University, all of whom worked together for the past decade to eradicate Plum Pox. Because of their efforts, we will continue to enjoy peaches and other stone fruits from Adams, Cumberland, Franklin and York counties.”

“One of the primary goals of the plum pox eradication program was to prevent the widespread distribution of this disease to other stone fruit-producing states,” said Ann Wright, deputy undersecretary for USDA’s marketing and regulatory programs. “Because of an extraordinary partnership between the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, Penn State University, industry and USDA, today we can declare plum pox eradicated from Pennsylvania.”

Native to Europe and spread by aphids, Plum Pox Virus affects plants in the genus Prunus, or stone fruits, including fruit-bearing and ornamental varieties of almond, apricot, cherry, nectarine, peach and plum.

Since trees cannot be cured of Plum Pox, affected growers were required to destroy all exposed stone fruit trees within the quarantined areas in the four affected counties. In Pennsylvania, 1,675 orchard acres were destroyed.

Since the eradication program began, more than 500 summer interns have collected more than two million samples from wild areas, residential property trees and shrubs, commercial orchards across the state, and from nursery stock moved to adjoining states.

“The Plum Pox eradication effort is a perfect illustration of how the state’s land-grant university can mobilize research and generate practical knowledge for the public good,” said Bruce McPheron, dean of Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences. “To rid the state of Plum Pox Virus while assisting growers in maintaining their operations required the expertise of Penn State plant pathologists, horticulturists, agricultural economists and extension educators, working in partnership with the state and federal agriculture departments and the fruit industry. This successful collaboration can serve as a blueprint for future plant- and animal-disease outbreaks.”

For more information about Plum Pox Virus, visit www.agriculture.state.pa.us and click on “Plant and Animal Health.”

Media contact: Jean Kummer, 717-787-5085

SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture

Source: newswire

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