Changes in the nursery and Christmas tree inspection programs

Changes in the pine shoot beetle federal quarantine and improvements to the MDARD inspection program that may affect nursery and Christmas tree growers.

A pine shoot beetle adult on a pine needle.
Pine shoot beetle adult. Photo by Steve Passoa, USDA APHIS PPQ, Bugwood.org.

The exotic pine shoot beetle, Tomicus piniperda [L.] (Coleoptera: Scolytidae) is a Eurasian pest of pines that was first discovered in North America in 1992 near Cleveland, Ohio. When pine shoot beetle was discovered, a federal quarantine that restricted shipping infested pine Christmas trees and nursery stock into uninfested areas was implemented to reduce the potential risk to pine forests.

As of Nov. 2, 2020, the federal pine shoot beetle quarantine program was deregulated. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) amended the regulations to remove the domestic pine shoot beetle quarantine and to eliminate the restrictions that apply to the importation of pine shoot beetle host material from Canada. They determined through analysis that the damage from pine shoot beetle was minimal and that the regulatory program was ineffective in slowing the spread of the pest and reducing damage.

Except for a few isolated incidences, pine shoot beetle has tended to cause minimal damage in pine in the Midwest, and especially in nursery and Christmas trees where there is adequate management, such as the Pine Shoot Beetle Compliance Management Program developed at Michigan State University.

So, what does deregulation of the federal pine shoot beetle quarantine mean for Christmas tree and nursery growers?

  • Cut Christmas trees that are shipped out of Michigan must continue to meet requirement of the destination state and of the federal gypsy moth quarantine. For example, Utah’s state exterior pine shoot beetle quarantine is still in effect.
  • Pine nursery stock will continue to be subject to standard nursery stock inspections. Infested nursery stock will be restricted per nursery law until treatments are applied.
  • Export of pine Christmas trees to Canada will need a phytosanitary certificate for shipping to non-regulated areas of PSB and gypsy moth. Export of pine nursery stock to Canada requires an import permit and a phytosanitary certificate.

In addition, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) is in the process of making improvements to the Christmas tree inspection program. The proposed features include:

  • Online field inspection application forms.
  • Online mapping capability inspections results will be uploaded to the system and be available.
  • Gypsy moth certificate will be provided electronically. This is nearly identical to the Certificate of Quarantine Compliance used in 2020.

For more information on nursery stock and Christmas tree inspection and certification, growers are encouraged to contact their local MDARD plant health inspector directly. Question can also be emailed to the MDARD Plant Health Program at MDARD-NurseryCE@michigan.gov or call the MDARD Customer Service Center at 800-292-3939.

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