Spotted Lanternfly, USDA

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is awarding $17.5 million in emergency funding to halt the spread of the invasive spotted lanternfly.

The pest, first identified in Berks County in 2014, has spread throughout southeastern Pennsylvania into New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland. The spotted lanternfly is a major threat to agricultural and nursery crops, particularly fruit trees and hardwoods.

The adult is an inch-long black, red and white spotted insect native to Southeast Asia. Since it was first identified, it has spread to 13 southeastern Pennsylvania counties. Quarantines have been established in those counties to prevent the movement of spotted lanternflies at any stage of their life cycle.

The invasive insect threatens to destroy $18 billion worth of agricultural commodities produced in the state, such as apples, grapes and hardwoods, which would be devastating for producers and businesses. Further, if the state cannot contain or eradicate the pest, it could jeopardize exports of products to other states and countries that want to prevent the pest from establishing a presence.

The emergency funding will be used for a two-pronged approach to contain the threat. USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service will monitor and control the outside of the infestation area to stop the insect from spreading while the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture will work within the core infestation area to reduce lanternfly populations.

In addition to emergency activities in Pennsylvania, APHIS is planning to use existing resources to conduct surveys, and control measures if necessary, in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and Virginia, where there is growing concern about the potential spread of the insect.

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HRI funds research projects

The Horticultural Research Institute (HRI), the research arm of AmericanHort, has announced the portfolio of research projects receiving funding in 2018. $232,000 will be provided to 10 projects to investigate solutions in the areas of horticultural production, pest management, environmental stewardship, and business and marketing.

“Making smart decisions on funding is part of HRI’s strategy to advance the industry,” says Jennifer DeJager, HRI President. “The projects selected for 2018 funding represent the work HRI feels will produce the most valuable information for horticulture businesses. After careful reviews by industry professionals and scientists, the most relevant projects were selected for funding.”

The Horticultural Research Institute’s mission is to direct, fund, promote, and communicate horticulture research. Supporting research that challenges current methods and bridges the divide between businesses and the consumer is exactly how HRI helps build prosperous businesses, advance the green industry, and fulfill its core vision.

“HRI supports projects where the outcomes can impact the bottom line for industry businesses,” says Jennifer Gray, HRI Administrator. “Whether that’s finding effective control methods for pests, investigating innovative approaches for plant production, or discovering new paths to consumer engagement—the projects selected for funding will provide valuable information companies can use to grow their businesses.”

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Feds OK orchid imports from Taiwan

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is amending its regulations to allow the importation of orchid plants of Dendrobium spp. in growing media from Taiwan into the United States. After careful analysis, APHIS scientists have determined that this species of orchid from Taiwan can be safely imported under a systems approach.

The systems approach established by APHIS scientists requires the registration and monitoring of greenhouses and specific sanitation and pest control practices in Taiwan. In addition, each shipment must be accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate declaring that the imported plants meet U.S. regulatory conditions. Growers participating in the program must also sign a written agreement with Taiwan’s plant protection organization agreeing to comply with U.S. regulations and to allow inspectors access to their growing facilities as necessary to monitor compliance.

The rule becomes effective on March 1, 2018.

California nursery industry value increases

The value of nursery products produced in California increased from approximately $3.17 billion in 2015 to $3.38 billion in 2016, an increase of 6.86 percent. During the same period, the value of floral products produced in California decreased from $475 million in 2015 to $423 million in 2016, a decrease of 10.94 percent. The total value of floral and nursery products combined was approximately $3.81 billion, an increase of 4.54 percent from the previous year.

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