MELeaf: A Newsletter From the Horticulture Program, November 4, 2021

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Horticulture Program

MELeaf: A Newsletter From the Horticulture Program, November 4, 2021

In this issue:

Know Plant Health Regulations When Sending Holiday Greenery

The holiday season is fast approaching and now is the time to review requirements for shipping holiday greenery to other states. Anyone sending wreaths and trees must follow plant health regulations to prevent the spread of plant pests, avoid unnecessary delays or the destruction of plant material upon arrival at its destination. 

The Horticulture Program has this advice for wreath and tree shippers: 

  • Import regulations can vary from state to state; shippers should check destination state regulations before sending plant material. A summary of plant health regulations relevant to holiday decorations is on the Horticulture Program website.
  • Always contact the Horticulture Program before sending any plant material internationally.
  • Carefully inspect plant material before packaging to ensure that there are no insects, egg masses or other pest damage. Look for evidence of pests that are commonly found on greens used in holiday decorations such as scales, aphids and balsam gall midge.
  • Clearly label packages containing holiday plant material. Begin with the statement "Grown in Maine" followed by the county of origin and the name and address of the shipper.
  • Labels should also indicate the different types of greenery, nuts, fruits and cones used to decorate the wreaths.
  • Know Lymantria dispar (formerly known as gypsy moth) certification requirements when sending plant material outside the L. dispar quarantine area. Christmas tree growers must have a compliance agreement with USDA-Plant Protection and Quarantine (USDA-PPQ) and inspect their trees for egg masses before shipment. Wreaths and other holiday decorations assembled with branches that are less than ½ inch in diameter may not require a compliance agreement, but do need to be inspected. Contact the Maine USDA-PPQ office at 207-848-0000 for more information. 
Holiday Wreath

This wreath contains greenery and decorations that may need certification to be shipped to other states

Update: Review of the Terrestrial Invasive Plant List

In October the Terrestrial Invasive Plant Stakeholder Committee convened to review the plant evaluations completed by the Plant Health Program and the Maine Natural Areas Program staff. 176 plants were considered for evaluation and 81 were dropped off the list because they were not found in the trade or were unlikely to survive in Maine or did not meet the invasive plant listing criteria. 95 plants are still being considered for addition to the proposed rules. 

The stakeholder group will meet again in a few weeks to finalize the recommended list and to consider any other adjustments needed to the current regulations. At the last meeting there was support for setting more specific criteria for exempting cultivars or varieties that can be shown to be sterile or not invasive.

Regardless of the final outcome, the proposed terrestrial invasive plant list will be growing significantly, and it will be very important for all plant vendors and others to provide comments on the proposed rules when they are published. We hope to publish the proposed rule sometime in late January or early February. Participation in the rulemaking process is essential if we are to develop reasonable and well-founded policies.

It's Almost License Renewal Time!

Licenses to sell plants are issued for a calendar year; all nursery licenses expire on December 31, 2021. The Horticulture Program will send out nursery license renewal notices just after Thanksgiving. Please review and promptly return the license renewal application. Due to the ongoing pandemic, staffing challenges and mail delays it may take longer than usual for us to process and return your license to you. Submitting your application early will ensure that you receive your license before selling plants in 2022.

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