MELeaf: A Newsletter From the Horticulture Program, May 12, 2020

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MELeaf: A Newsletter From the Horticulture Program, May 12, 2020

In this issue:

We'll See You Soon! Horticulture Program Resumes Inspections

The Horticulture Program will start conducting routine inspections over the next few weeks, using a slightly modified inspection procedure. To start, we will focus our efforts on larger businesses and those supplying other businesses with plantsWhile we usually conduct inspections unannounced, for the time being, you can expect to receive an email or phone call prior to the inspection that will have a proposed day and explain special inspection practices we are following. We know that conducting business through the busy spring season is challenging and we do not want to be disruptive to your business, if the proposed day does not work for you, you can postpone the inspection.   

We will be wearing face coverings and observing social distancing practices while at your business. However, inspectors do not count towards the total number of customers allowed in your business. We will focus inspections on pest-prone crops and while we will point out any problem areas that need to be immediately addressed, full inspection reports will be mailed or emailed to you afterwards.  

If you are struggling with a pest problem and would like to request an inspection you can do so by emailing Please include your name, your business name, the town where you are locatedthe reason you are requesting an inspection and we will contact you.  

Early Pest Detection: CAPS Nursery Survey

Early detection saves lives.  The sooner something is found, the easier it is to manage.  Whether it be cancer, Covid-19, or plant pest problems, the chances of successfully managing an invasive foe are improved when it is found early. Often, the most challenging problems are the ones we haven’t seen or dealt with before. In the plant world, those are exotic organisms (spotted lanternfly, anyone?).  Luckily for us, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has a program that identifies insects and plant diseases native to other countries that could cause devastating harm to our plant resources, if they arrive. And with our global society, many of them do accidentally arrive. The Cooperative Agricultural Pest Survey (CAPS) Program, found in every state (and in Maine is administered by DACF’s Horticulture Program), focuses on early detection and surveillance of harmful or economically significant exotic plant pests, diseases, and weeds that have eluded first-line-of-defense inspections in their native countries or at our borders.

Over the seventeen years that the CAPS Program has been with the Maine Department of Agriculture, surveys have been conducted in numerous crops, including corn, soybeans, potatoes, berries, grapes, trees; and environs, like industrial parks, campgrounds, and nurseries. Luckily, we haven’t come across any of the exotic target pests on our lists, but once in a while we find organisms not previously known in Maine, like the clover root borer (Hylastinus obscurus), soybean aphid (Aphis glycines), and Japanese apple rust (Gymnosporangium yamadae). These incidental finds may be new to the state or may have been here a while without having been recorded. In any case, the CAPS Program provides an opportunity to look for things that are new, and hopefully find harmful exotic pests before plants are damaged.

This year the CAPS Program will be surveying around nurseries and garden centers to look for a variety of early detection pests, like oak wilt, a vascular wilt disease causing mortality of oak in parts of the country, pine beauty moth, a European pest of Scots pine, and the European cherry fruit fly, a serious pest of cherry found in northwest NY. Learn more at, or contact us if you are interested in the survey;

CAPS target pests

Even When It's Busy, Social Distancing is Essential

Keep 6 Feet Apart

As the weather warms and more people start visiting your business, it is important to continue to encourage your employees and customers to follow social distancing guidelines, regularly clean hands and frequently touched surfaces and to stay home if they aren’t feeling well. Previous issues of the MELeaf offer some guidance on how to keep your employees and customers safe and you can find more information in these links: 

Upcoming Webinars, Calls and Events for the Horticulture Industry

From Around the Web: Useful Websites and Other Resources