Pennsylvania Ag Secretary Says Continued Monitoring Necessary to Prevent Re-Emergence of Plum Pox Virus

Jun 07, 2010, 13:45 ET from Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture

HARRISBURG, Pa., June 7 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Following a successful, decade-long effort to eradicate the Plum Pox virus in Pennsylvania, Agriculture Secretary Russell C. Redding said it's important that everyone with an interest in the state's stone fruit industry continue to remain vigilant as the blight continues to pose a threat.

Redding said that although the state and U.S. Agriculture departments are entering the recovery phase of their Plum Pox Virus eradication program here in Pennsylvania, some nursery quarantine restrictions remain and the virus can still be found in nearby New York and Ontario, Canada.

For that reason, monitoring will continue this summer in Pennsylvania's commercial stone fruit orchards, he said.

"Pennsylvania proudly celebrated the eradication of Plum Pox Virus last fall after 10 years of intensive surveying and sampling," said Redding. "This victory was possible thanks to the cooperation of the growers, federal and state agriculture departments and Penn State University. We must continue our vigilance in protecting our stone fruit industry as we enter the new monitoring and recovery phase of the program."

Summer survey crews are collecting samples from commercial orchards in Adams, Cumberland, Franklin and York counties and other key production areas in the state through mid-August. Crews will also conduct a limited homeowner survey.  

In the first month of surveying, nearly 14,000 samples have been collected and 100 orchard blocks completed from the four main counties plus Erie and Snyder counties. No positive samples have been identified.

Plum Pox was found in Adams County peach trees in 1999—the first-ever detection of the virus in North America. The state and federal agriculture departments and Penn State University collaborated with growers to impose a 300-square-mile quarantine area, perform aggressive surveillance and develop an eradication program.

Because 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.

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

For more information about the Plum Pox Virus visit and search "Plum Pox Virus."  

Media contact: Jean Kummer, 717-787-5085

SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture