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Mini-Blog: Compliance

Mini-Blog: Compliance

Compliance to some growers seems like it’s an exclusive right, reserved only for the large, nationwide operations with deep wallets. In our business, we’ve heard everything from it’s only for “small package” shipping, to it’s only for “wholesale” growers. But, really, it’s for both!

Compliance is often misunderstood as something that is one or the other when that’s simply not the case. 

As the importance of compliance continues to become more urgent, programs throughout the United States have been developed to help nurseries of each and every size. 

There is perhaps nowhere in this great nation that values the importance of compliance more than the West Coast. Specifically, California. Anyone in the industry can tout for the rigorous legislative initiatives the state has taken to protect their agriculture and garden industries. 

Plant Right

To aid in this initiative, a program was developed in 2005 to help combat the invasive plant species sales in the state of California. The program focused on both the benefits to businesses, as well as the environment. The program is called Plant Right and has an extensive list of allies ranging from American Hort all the way to the Nature Conservancy. 

The impressive relationships that this program has been able to forge speaks to the necessity and value that growers and their community gain from their initiatives. Through both educational and purchasing opportunities, the program provides a comprehensive, compliant approach to invasive plant species throughout the state. 

SANC

Outside of invasive plant species and within all 50 states, there is a great need for compliance for growers. What if, grow locations could certify their operations and practices showing the industry they’re compliant?

This is where a program, called SANC, steps in. 

SANC stands for Systems Approach to Nursery/Greenhouse Stock Certification and was developed through partnerships between more than 20 state agencies and the National Plant Board (NPB). 

The program focuses specifically on the cleanliness of the facility and growing better plants. Through identifying critical points in their operation, growers can better protect areas where pests and hazards have the opportunity to enter their growing locations.

Once the critical points are identified, the growers implement a “Best Management Practice” to reduce their risk and exposures. These efforts target points of entry, shipping locations, and points of production where the plants may be under increased risk.   

The program is currently being tested in 18 different facilities throughout 14 different states. It works for large, small, and even local growers in the U.S. The SANC certification can work for everything from healthier plants locally to shipping plants between states. 

Plant Sentry

While the SANC certification is great and offers a number of ways for growers to increase their compliance efforts, there are still a number of areas of compliance that are still left exposed.   

This is how Plant Sentry came to be. 

Plant Sentry’s development was inspired by SANC and its initiatives but wanted to offer even more comprehensive compliance. And thus Plant Sentry was born!

While SANC focuses on the facility of the plants, Plant Sentry focuses on the plants themselves. The Plant Sentry proprietary database contains a plant’s restrictive information applied to the different states throughout the U.S. and Canada. 

The three main targeted areas of compliance are disease, pests, and invasive plant species. Through our compliance knowledge, we’re able to effectively evaluate your plant selections and advise on the potential risks each of them face. Through consultation services, we offer the extended opportunity to develop your compliance efforts and obtain proper certifications for each plant.

Additionally, emergency response is offered 24/7 to aid in navigating any outbreak or potential risk. Our expert compliance team prioritizes each client’s needs to ensure the best possible outcome for the plants and their growers. 

No matter how you choose to begin your compliance journey, we’re glad you’ve started! As the industry continues to progress, growers are continuing to move towards meeting the market’s sustainable demands. 

Compliance is a sustainable effort. 

As your company considers its compliance journey, we hope to hear from you personally! However, we understand and appreciate that every journey is different. We stand by our suggestions for the other programs mentioned in this article and can only hope that it eventually will lead you to us. So if we don’t hear from you first, we look forward to when we do!

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There’s Something Fruity About Citrus States

There’s Something Fruity About Citrus States

You’re visiting your favorite online nursery, browsing through the citrus trees, when it happens. Suddenly, your eyes catch the most beautiful Meyer lemon tree! You just have to have it!

You’re currently a resident of Florida and citrus is everywhere, you’re tired of being left out, so you add the tree to your cart and proceed to check out.

Suddenly a dark cloud settles over you. The plant is restricted in your area.

But WHY can’t this tree ship to you? You live in Florida and there are citrus trees everywhere, so WHY can’t this tree come live with you? 

You begin to look at where the location of the tree you’re trying to order comes from. Upon closer inspection, you see that it comes from the other sunny state of California. Now you’re very confused. Why can’t I, in Florida, receive a citrus tree from California?

You may not know, but we do!

Two hanging lemons

But First, A History Lesson

The story of citrus and its shipping regulations began long before your attempt to add a variety to your garden. The beauty of citrus fruits has been gracing humanity throughout the world since roughly about 2,500 years ago. 

Originating from Southeast Asia the growth and development of citrus throughout the world has been strongly tied to its status of prominence and health.

In ancient times of Rome, the fruit was linked to both statuses of privilege and religious significance [1]. In addition, many cultures remarked on the miraculous healing properties of the fruits and even in the United States were a huge component of the expansion of the fruit. 

Infographic from the University of Florida on Florida Citrus

Citrus Growth in the Sunshine State

The first citrus fruit to arrive to the “New World” was via Christopher Columbus in 1493. It wouldn’t be until many decades later that citrus would make its way to Florida.

It’s believed in the mid-1500s that Spanish explorer, Ponce de Leon planted the first orange tree in St. Augustine, Florida [2].

The optimal climate of Florida allowed for the success of oranges throughout the state and has resulted in a $9 billion dollar industry. 

Florida now houses roughly 569,000 acres of citrus groves with more than 74 million citrus trees. That’s a lot, I mean, really, A LOT of citrus!

Through the 2018-2019 season, the University of Florida concluded that 9,181,000 cartons of citrus were packed. The economic contribution to the state of Florida was $6.5 billion dollars, with a tax share revenue of $139 million [3]

When it comes to drinking your orange and grapefruit juices, Florida is the state to thank! Unlike California, when it comes to fresh citrus juices, Florida provides the largest amount nationwide. 

Citrus Growth in the Golden State

In other citrus growing states like California, the citrus industry wouldn’t develop until much later. Seriously, much later. 

Almost 200 years after the first orange is planted in Florida, California finally gets its shot. In 1769 Father Junipero Serra planted the first citrus seed in Southern California [4].   

Less than 100 years later, in 1841, William Wolfskill planted the first commercial orchard of California in what is now the center of downtown Los Angeles [5].

Over the next 50 years, the citrus industry of California would rapidly expand. By 1885 the state had 2 million trees growing citrus.

Ten years later that number doubled and the state was growing 4.5 million trees. 

By the 2016-2017 growing season, citrus was valued at $3.389 billion dollars. While the overall economic contribution was $7.1 billion. The state of California’s GDP benefited $1.695 billion from the industry while the estimated wage contributions were $452 million dollars [7].

So next time, you slice up fresh limes, lemons, and oranges thank California! Unlike Florida, California is predominantly responsible for the fresh citrus fruits you buy at the store.

It’s All About the Growth Conditions

Around the world, growers plant and harvest citrus. The success of each plant isn’t determined solely by its genetics, but also by the environmental factors that nurture and stimulate the plant to keep it growing. 

Growing citrus requires ideal growth conditions that can only be found in certain growing regions.

As of 2016, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations found that 79% of the world’s citrus is grown in the Northern Hemisphere. The remaining 21% is grown in the Southern Hemisphere and predominantly comes from Brazil, who is the world’s largest citrus producer [6]

If you were to look at just a map of the locations for each of the regions that grow citrus you would quickly notice a pattern. No matter the country or location in the world, citrus regions are located in coastal regions.

In the U.S. our citrus growing region is known as the “Citrus Belt.” The region stretches along the southern coastal states and provides the ideal conditions for their citrus plantings.

Citrus is very specific to the type of conditions it prefers in order for it to be successful!

These conditions are sandy soil composition and no less than 50% sunshine daily. In addition, the planting location should have excellent soil drainage, and help protect the plants from wind.

several oranges or tangerines on a slate colored table top

Finally, Why You Can’t Ship Citrus From CA to FL

As we depicted at the beginning, it is common for purchasers of citrus plants to become easily confused about why they’re unable to receive a plant, based on where they’re located. With citrus growing in so many states, it only furthers the confusion when someone is told no, to something that grows practically in their own backyard.

But, what many people don’t know is that citrus for many decades has been battling a number of diseases spread specifically by the interstate/intrastate shipping of its plant.

Whether it’s a tree or a seed, the different parts of the citrus plants that have traveled are also the same pieces that threaten other citrus plants and their survial.

Currently, there are four different diseases that are widely regulated between states and countries to protect citrus plants. They are Huanglongbing or citrus greening, citrus canker, citrus black spot, and sweet orange scab.

Each of these diseases is different, but each of them also has the potential to wipe out citrus growth in the United States. 

This very threat to the citrus industry and the livelihoods of those who produce them has resulted in strict legislation passed both on federal and state levels to preserve the citrus industry. 

The legislation and regulatory efforts are made in hopes to prevent the spread of diseases through quarantine, inspection, and eradication efforts. Each of the listed diseases leaves the fruits either susceptible to different forms of stunting or to poor fruit quality resulting in it being unmarketable.  

As we’ve learned in recent months with the spread of COVID-19, diseases have the potential to spread rapidly, and unknowingly.

These dangerous factors are why it is so important to keep citrus trees in safe spaces!

The USDA advises that if you’re growing citrus at home it is best to keep the fruit and plants at home away from potential diseases, and away from healthy plants in case yours unknowingly has a disease.

Another important consumer request from the USDA is to acknowledge the quarantined counties and areas throughout the country where citrus diseases are being isolated [8]. Don’t try to move fruit or plants from infested/infected areas and know that it’s for the good of the fruit.


How You Can Help

These citrus diseases are a stark reminder of the power of contamination and just how easy it can occur. These diseases were spread mostly by unchecked, unregulated plants throughout history. Now decades later, a number of people are threatened by the loss of citrus.

How can you help?  

When ordering citrus online or in person, remember to buy from distributors and growers who are compliant within their regulations.

How will you know if they’re compliant? Compliant growers and distributors will have no problem discussing with you the safety precautions followed and the certifications that the plants adhered to, in order to be sold. 

In addition to asking about their compliance efforts, take the time to learn about your local quarantine regulations. Knowing whether or not your county is under quarantine for citrus can help you prevent the spread of disease.

Another great way? 
Ask if they used Plant Sentry!

We pride ourselves on our compliance and regulatory efforts throughout the industry.

While we work with a number of clients who grow and sell citrus, we, unfortunately, don’t cover everyone in the industry. Be sure to ask the next time you purchase a lemon tree or other citrus varieties if they were checked using Plant Sentry


Citations:

[1] Holland, B. (2017, July 31). How Citrus Fruits Became an Ancient Status Symbol. Retrieved August 28, 2020, from https://www.history.com/news/how-citrus-fruits-became-an-ancient-status-symbol

[2] Facts About Florida Oranges & Citrus. (n.d.). Retrieved August 28, 2020, from https://www.visitflorida.com/en-us/eat-drink/facts-about-florida-citrus-oranges.html

[3] Economic Contributions of the Florida Citrus Industry in 2018-19. (2020, August 18). Retrieved August 28, 2020, from https://www.floridacitrus.org/newsroom/news/economic-contributions-of-the-florida-citrus-industry-in-2018-19/

[4] Lee, S. (n.d.). The history of citrus in California. Retrieved August 28, 2020, from http://www.californiabountiful.com/features/article.aspx?arID=695

[5] Geisseler, D., & Horwath, W. R. (2016, June). Citrus Production in California [PDF]. California Department of Food and Agriculture Fertilizer Research and Education Program. https://apps1.cdfa.ca.gov/FertilizerResearch/docs/Citrus_Production_CA.pdf

[6] Citrus Fruit Fresh and Processed Statistical Bulletin 2016. (2016). Retrieved 2020, from http://www.fao.org/3/a-i8092e.pdf

[7] Babcock, B. A. (n.d.). Economic Impact of California’s Citrus Industry. Retrieved 2020, from https://citrusresearch.org/wp-content/uploads/Economic-Contribution-of-California-Citrus-Industry21.pdf

[8] Yigzaw, P., Runciman, D., Gateley, D., Burchard, J., C., D., Trees, O., . . . Eldridge, M. (2020, August 12). Citrus Trees: Move It AND Lose It. Retrieved August 28, 2020, from https://www.usda.gov/media/blog/2014/08/25/citrus-trees-move-it-and-lose-it

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Why You’re Seeing So Many Japanese Beetles In 2020

Why You’re Seeing So Many Japanese Beetles In 2020

Have you ever wondered why there are many Japanese beetles one year, but not the next? 2020 has been a wild ride so far, but not to be outdone, the Japanese beetle population has also seen an uptick in cases.

In our previous blog about Japanese beetles, we covered just how extensive the damage from these pests can be, as well as their lifecycle. But, what we didn’t tell you, was how you can prepare from year to year to drive down their population.

Overpopulating Your Plants

Before we get too far ahead of ourselves in finding the solution, let’s take a brief moment to refresh our memories of how these pests work and their optimal habitat conditions.

Japanese beetles (Popillia japonica) take a liking to over 300 different ornamental and agricultural plant species. They’re primarily active as adults between the times of June 1st until September 30th. When the pest isn’t enjoying their flight season, they are underground in the larval stage for a 10 month period. 

The habitat conditions that are considered favorable for these pests for them to optimally grow is in wet/moist soil conditions. These conditions prevent the larvae from drying out. The moist soil also keeps many of the plants that the grubs prefer thriving through the changing seasons so that they may feed on the roots of the plants.

During their flight period, the beetles can fly within a 5-mile radius allowing them to mate and reproduce in different environments that suit their needs. While 5 miles may not seem like a lot, it is still enough distance for them to find new plants to destroy and new soils to infiltrate.

Somebody Stop ‘Em!

Understanding how the Japanese beetle works is an important part of defining the solutions to the pest. Whether it’s their expansive plant palate or their underground developmental phases, one thing is for certain, if left unchecked, the Japanese beetle could change the availability of the plants in the United States. 

This spring the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Field Agronomists reported a higher count of grubs throughout the state of Iowa. [1] But, they weren’t the only ones! States that are commonly affected by this pest, such as, Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Arkansas, and Oklahoma also noticed an increase in the number of Japanese beetles throughout their states. 

Despite growers best efforts, the Japanese beetle continues to present challenges in successful eradication from the United States. How is it that despite the best Integrated Pest Management plans, these beetles continue to rear their ugly heads year after year? 

Determining the amount of a pest from year to year can be challenging for plant owners and growers alike. But, the answer may be slightly easier than expected.

Resolving the Problem

Like any organism on our planet, the Japanese beetle’s population is affected by the environmental and biological conditions of its habitats. This means that everything from how much rain falls within the seasons, to how many predators are present will affect the size of the Japanese beetle population. 

Taking note of these factors and accounting them into our solutions will ultimately provide the most effective and expansive practices to remove the pests. Scientists and growers have already lifted a tremendous amount of the leg work to identify solutions in combating the growing beetle population.

In considering the environmental controls that can be implemented in order to fight the Japanese beetle there are a few different options to be considered.

The first is evaluating the environmental factors that are most reasonably out of your control, such as, how dry the soil naturally is. Since Japanese beetles prefer wet/moist soil conditions it would be unreasonable to think you could control the amount of rain that falls and affects your soil moisture.

 However, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to evaluate how much water you use within seasons that grubs underground may benefit from. How much water that is retained in your soil will impact the grub/larvae habitat.

In addition, taking early note of dead patches of grass may indicate the presence of grubs in your soil and is recommended to treat the soil directly, but not always effective to treat for the grubs. With whatever grass treatment method you use, be sure to check with how this may affect your underground water supply.

The next solution to preventing an abundant Japanese beetle season is still within environmental controls. This time, however, the solution focuses on the types of plants that are grown, and their resistance to the beetle. If at all possible, consider rotating crops and planting plants that aren’t favored by the beetle, or are naturally resistant to it

USDA APHIS recommends these top 20 Woody Plants as Japanese beetle resistant options [3]:

1. Red maple Acer rubrum 

2. Boxwood Buxus spp. 

3. Hickory Carya spp. 

4. Redbud Cercis spp. 

5. Tulip poplar Liriodendron tulipifera 

6. Dogwood Cornus spp. 

7. Burning-bush Euonymus spp. 

8. Forsythia Forsythia spp. 

9. Ash Fraxinus spp. 

10. Holly Ilex spp. 

11. Juniper Juniperus spp. 

12. Sweetgum Liquidambar styraciflua 

13. Magnolia Magnolia spp. 

14. Spruce Picea spp. 

15. Pine Pinus spp. 

16. Northern red oak Quercus rubrum 

17. Lilac Syringa spp. 

18. Yew Taxus spp. 

19. Arborvitae Thuja spp. 

20. Hemlock Tsuga spp.

They also recommend these 20 Herbaceous Plants as resistant against the Japanese Beetle [3]:

1. Ageratum Ageratum spp. 

2. Columbine Aquilegia spp. 

3. Dusty-miller Centaurea cineraria, Lychnis coronaria 

4. Begonia Begonia spp. 

5. Lily-of-the-valley Convallaria majalis 

6. Coreopsis Coreopsis spp. 

7. Larkspur Delphinium spp. 

8. Foxglove Digitalis spp. 

9. California poppy Eschscholzia californica 

10. Coral-bells Heuchera sanguinea 

11. Hosta Hosta spp. 

12. Impatiens Impatiens spp. 

13. Lantana Lantana camara 

14. Forget-me-not Myosotis spp. 

15. Pachysandra Pachysandra spp. 

16. Poppy Papaver spp. 

17. Moss-rose Portulaca grandiflora 

18. Showy sedum Sedum spectabile 

19. Nasturtium Tropaeolum majus 

20. Violet, pansy Viola spp.

By considering one of the selections above, your environment is automatically designed to have some degree of resistance against the pest and provide better habitation for other species. 

The next factor to consider in battling a Japanese beetle infestation is predatory methods. Part of the success of the Japanese beetle in the United States is that its initial presence didn’t have a predatory species. Due to the natural biological lag in evolution and predation, species identification that would be combative against the pest has taken some time and serious amounts of patience.

In the current day and age of science, predatory approaches to control the pest have been identified favored in hopes to eliminate the use of chemical pesticides, as well as hoping for increased effectiveness. 

There are two types of predators of the beetle that are most commonly used for pest management. The first is the tachinid fly[2]. This insect can be attracted by growing plants that the insect favors, or by directly introducing the species into your environment. The pest targets adult beetles, spiders, larvae, grasshoppers, earwigs, caterpillars, sawfly larvae, true bugs, and Japanese beetles. 

The second predatory organism to consider is two types of insect-eating nematodes. The two nematodes that have been noted by the USDA APHIS team as most effective against the Japanese beetle are Steinernema glaseri and Heterorhabditis bacteriophora. The nematodes are roundworm parasites that eat the Japanese beetle grubs, removing them from your soil.

The challenge with using nematodes is that depending on where you send your plants as a grower, there are different restrictions against nematodes in plants. 

Whether through the predatory methodology or through environmental efforts against the insects, there are a number of ways to combat the Japanese beetle. Through the continued efforts of growers and scientists, control and eradication of the pests ARE possible. 

Taking the Steps to Eliminate the Problem

Part of the struggle of the Japanese beetle is being able to predict the considerable amount of variables that have made the pest such a success within their environments. The challenge that we face as growers and plant owners is to remain consistent and innovative in our efforts against the species. 

While change doesn’t occur overnight, and evolution can take time to naturally combat this invasive species, it is our responsibility to take as many necessary avenues as possible to control and eliminate the species from our lands. 

Our efforts cannot be limited to only chemical resolve, but also in biological resolutions. The impact that this pest has against our food and our habitats, is the compassionate consideration we need to make in our treatment efforts. The direct relationship from the environment that we create and the number of Japanese beetles we see are undeniable. But, it is not always an option to simply plant something else. Through our efforts we can reclaim our plants for us, and remove the Japanese beetle from the equation.

To learn more about threats to the industry and first notifications of our latest blogs, be sure to signup for our e-mails!


Citations:

[1] Author:  Erin Hodgson Professor Dr. Erin Hodgson started working in the Department of Entomology at Iowa State University in 2009. She is an associate professor with. (n.d.). Watch for Japanese Beetle Emergence. Retrieved August 17, 2020, from https://crops.extension.iastate.edu/cropnews/2020/06/watch-japanese-beetle-emergence

[2] Japanese Beetles and Natural Enemies. (n.d.). Retrieved August 17, 2020, from https://extension.umd.edu/ipm/japanese-beetles-and-natural-enemies

[3]Japanese Beetle. (n.d.). Retrieved August 17, 2020, from https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/planthealth/plant-pest-and-disease-programs/pests-and-diseases/japanese-beetle/japanese-beetle

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National Moth Week

National Moth Week


This year July 18 through the 26th is National Moth Week! [1]

What started in 2012 amongst members of the “Friends of the East Brunswick Environmental Commission” as moth nights, has grown into a national week celebrating the education and conservation of moths throughout the United States. 

As the education and conservation of moths continue to grow, so do the number of participating states and countries throughout the world. Currently the event is registered in all 50 United States and 80 other countries.

Why Are Moths Important?

Moths are estimated to have been in existence for around 50 -70 million years [2]. This timeline makes the moth one of the oldest and most successful organisms on planet Earth.

Besides being well established in our biosphere, moths are also recognized as bioindicators. Their abundance and vitality directly correlates to the health and well being of plants and in turn animals in their surroundings. 

This point of contention has behaved as a driving force behind many insect conservation efforts for the better part of two to three decades[3].

In addition to being a strong indicator of a healthy environment, moths are also pollinators and just as important as the bees and butterflies that we glorify during pollinator’s week.

Where Can You Find Moths?

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The focus of the National Moth Week is to recognize and promote beneficial moths in your local ecosystem. There are a number of activities all week long through your local extension office, Audubon society, and moth communities. [4]

To construct your own mothing experience, follow these few steps and enjoy an event in your own backyard!

  • First, hang up a sheet
  • Second, find a light source
  • Third, place the light source close by/behind your sheet to attract the moths, and give them a place to land
  • Finally, sit back and wait for the moths!

While there are a number of moths that can be viewed at night. There is also a significant amount to be found during the day. Until recently it was commonly believed that moths were unlike butterflies and only flew at night to avoid different predators. But, scientists in recent years have found that as few as 50 species of moths have changed their activity patterns to daytime.

Moths are everywhere, you just have to know where to look! During daytime hours, moths can be found in their preferred habitats of gardens with beautiful flowers, and anywhere that has them. The beauty and complex artistry of moth wings can often be mistaken for a butterfly.

Next time you’re out in the day, take a closer look and see if your favorite butterfly is perhaps a moth instead! [6]

Other ways to attract moths include using ripened fruit, sugaring (rubbing molasses on a small section of bark), and wine ropes (rope cooked down in a pan with red wine and sugar). Identifying moths during moth week is half the fun.

There are a number of ways for you to become a moth expert, you just have to get started!

The “Other” Moths

Gypsy Moth

We’ve spent the majority of this article explaining the importance of this week and the benefits of moths, but we wouldn’t be doing our part if we didn’t also mention the…”other” moths.

Here at Plant Sentry™ we know better than anyone, that while there can be a number of good pests out there, it only takes one bad one to wipe out an entire collection of plants. So while we’ve highlighted so many great things about moths in this article, we wouldn’t be following our ethics if we didn’t also warn you about the bad ones.

Almost all of the moth species that exist are beneficial, but just like that one guy in the fast lane slowing everyone down, there’s also that one moth species who isn’t doing any good in North America. 

Introducing the Gypsy Moth (Lymantria dispar)! 

If you haven’t heard about them before, then we’re really glad you decided to stop by. The Gypsy Moth is an invasive moth species to the North American region. It is classified as one of the most challenging pests to control and eradicate because of the number of plants that it can infiltrate, as well as their discrete biological way of spreading. 

The threat that this pest most prominently proposes is the defoliation that it causes to its plant hosts. Most commonly they can be found in Oak trees, Sweet Gum, Willow, Birch, Apple, Boxelder, as well as many more. 

They often leave their hosts in such a state that they become more susceptible to diseases and mortality. Additionally, the damage caused to the trees can increase the potential of wildfires due to the lack of moisture from the leaves.

Controlling the pest has been an ongoing challenge for growers since 1869 when the moth first arrived in Boston [5]. The Gypsy Moth can travel as a larvae to new locations through what is known as “ballooning.” This is when the larvae produces a silk thread and it is carried by a strong enough wind that the insect is able to travel without flight. This spread facilitation in addition to the unintentional transfer by human goods allows the population of this pest to increase continually.

While there are different kinds of traps that can attract the pest, there is always the risk of increasing the population this way and making it more difficult in the long run. Additional methods that can be of benefit are chemical or biological solutions that eradicate the pest at the caterpillar stage.

The Plant Sentry™ Effort

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Wax moth larvae

Here at Plant Sentry™ we’re suckers for healthy plants. We genuinely can’t help ourselves!

A healthy plant is so much more than just a beautiful addition to a landscape. To us, a healthy plant signifies a healthy future in a healthy environment. Because of the efforts of thousands of moth species throughout the world, healthy plants are possible.

While there is one bad apple in the bunch, there are still thousands of other moth species that do great things for your plants and our planet. We recognize that providing diligent and valuable information is the backbone of success against invasive species and protecting species that are good for our local ecosystems.

Day in and day out we work hard at Plant Sentry™ to stay on top of the latest regulations so that when it comes to your plant’s health, we have the right answers for you. We understand that pests make their way in shipments, despite our best efforts. We’ve designed our services to understand nature and provide the best guidance to protect your healthy plants.

If you’re ready to take the next steps to protect your plants and business visit our Contact Us page to get started!


Citations:

[1]National Moth Week. (n.d.). Retrieved July 21, 2020, from http://nationalmothweek.org/

[2] Hayward, E. (2018, January 20). Jurassic moths. Retrieved July 21, 2020, from https://www.bc.edu/bc-web/bcnews/science-tech-and-health/earth-environment-and-sustainability/bc-scientists-find-prehistoric-butterflies-preceded-flowers.html

[3] Stewart, A. J., New, T. R., & Lewis, O. T. (2007). Insect conservation biology: Proceedings of the Royal Entomological Society’s 23rd symposium. Cambridge, MA, MA: CABI.

[4] Zych, A. (2016, July 28). Go Mothing! Retrieved July 21, 2020, from https://www.sciencefriday.com/educational-resources/observe-moths/

[5] Invasive Species. (2019, October 10). Retrieved July 21, 2020, from https://www.nps.gov/isro/learn/nature/invasive-species-gypsy-moth.htm

[6] http://www.mothscount.org/uploads/How_to_start%20_mothing.pdf

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Here’s A Flight You’ll Want to Miss

Here’s A Flight You’ll Want to Miss

For growers around the world, there are certain seasons that can be more stressful than others. In the U.S. the challenges of the seasons are no different. With the ever evolving globalized market of the world, the challenge of keeping unwanted pests out seems to get harder every single year. 

This challenge is especially difficult during their mating seasons when many pests reproduce and establish their damages for years to come. One pest in the United States is regarded with high priority for eradication and control methods. 

Every year between June 1st until September 30th growers around the U.S. work tirelessly to seek an end to the damage from the Japanese Beetle. This time of the year is known as the Japanese Beetle Flight Season (Period).

Japanese Beetles- A History

As you could probably guess by the name, the Japanese Beetle (Popillia japonica)originated in Japan. Many, many years ago in 1916 Japanese Beetles were officially discovered in the United States near Riverton, New Jersey.[1] However, it is believed that the pest made its way over on a shipment of Iris bulbs as early as 1912. [2]

Fast forward to the current year of 2020 and most states East of the Mississippi River have been infested by the Japanese Beetle. While partial infestations do exist West of the Mississippi, states on that side of the U.S. have taken strict precautions to protect themselves against the spread of the invasive pest. [1]

What’s the Big Deal With the Small Size?

While the establishment of Japanese Beetles is fairly well known at this point in time, many of you may still be asking “Why are these pests such a big deal?”

Japanese beetles can prove difficult to remove once they’ve established themselves at a location. 

During their flight season, the beetle digs a hole in the soil and lays their eggs. The growing beetles, or grubs, will then spend the next 10 months in the soil before emerging. During their time in the soil the grubs devour roots and seedlings of good quality turf and vegetables. While the grubs prefer good quality turf and vegetables areas, they can survive in almost any soil conditions. 

While the grubs wreak havoc below ground, above the surface the Japanese beetle can do just as much damage. As can be seen above, the Japanese beetle will eat out the green tissue between the leaf veins of a plant for feeding. This is consistent with their feeding pattern and not particular to one type of plant. While the plant may recover from the damage to their energy panels, or leaves as you may call them, the damage leaves the plant more susceptible to damage from other harmful insects and pests.

How Do I Know If I Have Them?

While the beetles are growing and in their grub stage, it can be difficult to know whether or not you have an infestation. But, above the surface things are much more noticeable. 


The Japanese beetle tends to “appear out of nowhere.” One day you may have seen 0 pests, and the next day they may be overwhelmingly apparent! There are a few plants that, depending on region, may act as indicator plants, or plants that are of preference to the Japanese beetle. They can almost certainly be found in rose bushes of any kind, raspberry plants, Linden trees, Maple tree varieties, Fruit tree varieties, Elm tree varieties, Ash tree varieties, Oak tree varieties, grape vines, and many more.

When “planting” their eggs in the soil, the female Japanese beetle follows a fairly specific pattern. She will take flight in the afternoon. She will find moist soil conditions. She will then dig and bury her eggs 2-3 inches in the ground. From there the lifecycle of the Japanese beetle starts all over again. 

But let’s take a step back to the identification of “moist soil conditions.” As I mentioned above, the Japanese beetle grubs prefer quality turf roots for feeding, because of this, the female beetle also looks to identify wet turf conditions for laying her eggs. The wet conditions are ideal and somewhat essential to the larvae stage of the beetle. It isn’t until the grubs are older that they are more drought tolerant, and before then it is pertinent to their survival. [4]

With all of the factors of preference for larvae livelihood considered, there are some key indicators that can help determine if an infestation is possible, or already exists. Moist irrigated turf areas are an ideal habitat for the grubs. When large portions of the turf die during times of hot and dry weather it can be a strong indicator that there is a larvae infestation. 

Treatment Options for Japanese Beetle

The Japanese Beetle once fully grown only lives for about 30-45 days at a time. So, when treating for the pest, targeting the larvae stage is just as important as eradicating the adult stage.

With a feeding habit that includes over 300 different plant species, the treatment options for Japanese Beetles is just as vast as the types of plants they eat!

There are chemical options available using different active ingredients such as Bifenthrin, Chlorpyrifos, Imidacloprid, Methyl Bromide, Lambda-cyhalothrin, Cypermethrin, and many more. Many greenhouses are required by law to use different chemicals in order to ship their plants across state borders during the Flight Period. 

This is seen as perhaps the most effective method against the Japanese beetle and is helpful in mitigation of the larvae stage, as well as the adult stage. However, because the beetles hatch in stages, while you may have sprayed one day for the insect, the insects may continue to emerge over time. 

Other options for treatment include using traps that utilize pheromones to attract the insect, but you can end up with more insects than you started with. There are also pellets that can be applied to grass areas that target the larvae specifically. We personally prefer the slow release pellets that are designed to prevent groundwater contamination. Another option for treatment is to physically pick them off your plants and drop them in a bucket of water as they’re collected.  

Whatever method of treatment you decide is right for your environment, be sure to do your research beforehand as to what is going to be best for your plants and their surroundings. The ultimate goal is to always have the healthiest plants, and too much of one thing can lead to not enough of another.

Plant Sentry™ Involvement

We like to think we’re kind of a big deal, and honestly it’s because we are! When it comes to pest mitigation the Plant Sentry™ experts work year round to stay up-to-date with the latest pest treatments. With involvement of different plant boards around the United States, members of Plant Sentry™ strive to stay up-to-date on the latest treatment methods for the Japanese Beetle. 

With our expertise we’re sure to help you ship the healthiest of plants. To learn more about how you can gain access to this information visit our contact us section!

Citations

[1] Japanese Beetle Harmonization Plan. (2018, December 04). Retrieved June 30, 2020, from https://nationalplantboard.org/japanese-beetle-harmonization-plan/

[2] (n.d.). Retrieved June 30, 2020, from http://www.treesforever.org/Japanese_Beetle

[3] Japanese Beetle Lifecycle Illustration. (n.d.). Retrieved July 01, 2020, from https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/planthealth/plant-pest-and-disease-programs/pests-and-diseases/japanese-beetle/ct_lifecycle

[4] Japanese Beetles in the Urban Landscape. (n.d.). Retrieved July 01, 2020, from https://entomology.ca.uky.edu/ef451

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Pollinator Week

Pollinator Week

It’s officially National Pollinator’s Week and we are ecstatic! Plant Sentry™ prides itself on helping make the Earth a better place for growing and sharing plants, so naturally, Pollinator’s Week is right up our alley. 


While underestimated in their value and importance, the list of pollinators includes around 200,000 species. Besides insects like bees, butterflies and beetles; there are 1,000 vertebrates on the list such as birds, bats, and other small mammals. Because of their impact, pollinators are some of the most important species on the planet.

The Key to Pollinating

A large portion of the pollinator population is made up of what are known as keystone species. Keystone species are essential to the environmental survival of their habitats. Many times keystone species become compromised when hunting, habitat degradation, and agricultural pursuits alter their ecosystems in a way that the species can not keep up with.

If the keystone species can no longer survive its habitat, then the ecosystem it supports can no longer survive.

This is seen in the case of the world’s largest pollinator, the white ruffed lemurs. While they may be the largest pollinator, their home of Madagascar has undergone extreme environmental renovations over the past several years.[1] Why are white and black ruffed lemurs endangered? Forest fragmentation and habitat loss have resulted in these pollinators being listed as critically endangered.

Pollination Can Get Batty

Lemurs aren’t the only pollinators at risk in our modern world. Due to recent innovations in wind energy bat pollination is also at risk. Wind farms are responsible for killing somewhere between 650,000 to 1.3 million bats between 2000 and 2011.

The bat species that are seen most at risk are the two federally endangered species of the Hawaiian hoary bat (Lasiurus cinereus semotus) and the Indiana myotis (Myotis sodalis). [2] It is uncertain as to what exactly attracts the bats to the wind turbines, but scientists are working diligently to figure it out. 

Over 500 different plant species rely on pollination by bats. Fruits such as bananas, guava, and mangoes wouldn’t flower without a bat and their love for nectar. Other important agricultural plants that bats pollinate are the agave plant, used for tequila and balsa trees, used for lightweight timber. [3]

The Buzzzziest Pollinator

In recent years, bees have finally been recognized for all of their hard work! The efforts of bee pollination add up to approximately $235-$577 billion USD in global food production, annually. [4] Bees are responsible for the pollination of goods such as apples, broccoli, cranberries, melons, and sometimes cherries and blueberries

A combination of habitat loss, pollutants, climate change, the Varroa mite, bacterial diseases, travel, and irresponsible chemical usage all add up to be contributing factors that make it difficult for bee populations to survive in high numbers. The common solution that many humans turn to is becoming a honey beekeeper in hopes to boost the population. But, the honey bee isn’t the only bee. [6]

There are roughly 25,000 other bee populations on our planet.

Depending upon the food source and the environment of the wild bees, the honey bee could be invasive. While many of these species look similar to the honey bee, the ecosystems they sustain are often drastically different. [5]

Your Impact & Responsibility

As the human population continues to grow there is an ever-increasing need for more food. 

Part of the critical role that pollinators have is pollinating a number of crops for humans. Due to the decline of pollinators worldwide, in 2016 it was reported that farmers in China had turned to pollination by hand. 

To achieve the same pollination of their pear trees that had once been received by bees and other insects, people were paid to use a brush to exchange pollen from male to female trees. It’s estimated that a human can pollinate only 5-10 trees a day, merely a fraction of the amount bees can cover. [4]

This research led to the question of “What if this is our future normal?” 

The idea that someday swarms of insects will no longer exist to fulfill the task of pollination raises many red flags. Beyond the scope of agricultural needs is the concept of ecosystem structure. As mentioned earlier, entire environments depend on the role of keystone species, and the species they affect in order for ecosystems to thrive and survive. 

The policies and procedures that we as humans have used for centuries may have been enough in the past. But, looking forward to how humans interact with our planet and our environments, will depend on the change we implement and care we take to preserve and restore the damages we cause.

Helping Pollinators

As attention has continued to be paid towards the decline of the pollinator population, humans are more eager than ever to lend a helping hand in rehabilitating these species. 

Where to start in helping the pollinator population can seem challenging at first, but organizations such as the Pollinator Partnership and National Wildlife Federation have developed programs that can locate pollinator plants good for your area. 

Growing landscapes for bees and other pollinators is a great way to help recover the loss of pollinators without taking on too much work. Pollinator plants attract pollinators and give them the sustenance they need to keep moving.

While science is continually growing, it will be the responsibility of communities to implement the checks and balances necessary to keep our pollinators alive.

Plant Sentry™ practices this belief in the services we offer our clients in helping mitigate pests and protect against disease. It’s not always easy to decide what the right move is, but with our help, the load feels a lot lighter.

For more information on how you can help protect pollinators and your plants, be sure to visit our Our Services page to learn more about our practices. If you have questions or interest about our services, Contact Us for more information.

Citations:

[1] Black and White Ruffed Lemur. 17 Feb. 2020, lemur.duke.edu/discover/meet-the-lemurs/black-white-ruffed-lemur/.

[2] Bats & Wind Energy. www.batcon.org/resources/for-specific-issues/wind-power.

[3] “U.S. Forest Service.” Forest Service Shield, www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/pollinators/animals/bats.shtml.

[4] “Shrinking Bee Populations Are Being Replaced by Human Pollinators.” Global Citizen, www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/life-without-bees-hand-human-pollination-rural-chi/.

[5] Victoria A Wojcik, Lora A Morandin, Laurie Davies Adams, Kelly E Rourke, Floral Resource Competition Between Honey Bees and Wild Bees: Is There Clear Evidence and Can We Guide Management and Conservation?, Environmental Entomology, Volume 47, Issue 4, August 2018, Pages 822–833, https://doi.org/10.1093/ee/nvy077

[6] Farah, Troy. “While We Worry About Honeybees, Other Pollinators Are Disappearing.” Discover Magazine, 3 Aug. 2018.

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Fresh Fruits & Vegetables Month

Fresh Fruits & Vegetables Month

As the weather continues to warm and the sun stays out longer, fruits and vegetables are growing bigger every day. Which is perfect, because June is National Fresh Fruits & Vegetables Month

While the basis of this month is to focus on the health aspects that fruits and vegetables provide to the human diet. We can’t help but stop to wonder, what determines the health of our fruits and vegetables? And who’s checking up on this?

Piqued Your Curiosity?

Where our produce comes from is commonly related to what store we bought it at and where that store is located. Until the Coronavirus pandemic in 2020, the concept of how that produce got to the store, was lost on many of the people who ate it. And sure, we know it comes from a farm, and that farmers have to grow it, but where are these farms located? And what are their growing practices? How do I know that the health of their plants is going to mean health for my body?

Finding the Answers

Unless you belong to the farming and gardening industry the idea of plant sourcing may be outside your realm, simply because you don’t see it. But, that’s part of the reason why Plant Sentry™ is here. We exist to safeguard the shipment of plants, and well, fruits and vegetables are plants too. 

So this month, we’d like to help answer some of these questions for you and give you some tools you need to answer these questions for yourself.

Where Do They Come From?

While California leads the U.S. states in domestic agriculture, the other 48 states make sure to do their part when it comes to farming too. 2 million other farms to be exact. While this seems like a lot, and perhaps that it should be enough, what may be surprising about this is that only about 8% of farms market their foods locally [2]. 

Many fruits and vegetables grown in the U.S. are only in season for a few weeks out of a calendar year.

The Fruits of Labor After the Seasons Over

Once the U.S. growers finish out their seasons for fruits and vegetables the American consumer doesn’t end their want/need for the produce. Instead, the U.S. market imports fresh fruits and vegetables from all around the world to meet American consumers’ demand.In 2012 it was calculated that roughly 6.9 million metric tons of fruits and vegetables were shipped to U.S. Distribution Centers nationwide. [2]  

So Are They Healthy?

The U.S. market for fruits and vegetables can be divided into 2 categories, fresh and processed. Deciding which market the farmer grows for determines how the produce is grown. If it is grown for the processed market, then the goods will meet the standards of that market. If the produce is grown for the fresh market, then they will adhere to the standards of the fresh market. The USDA monitors both of these markets and lists their standards for both categories here. [4]

When it comes to the health of fruits and vegetables determining their values can be a little bit more challenging, because it requires a closer look. Fruits and vegetable benefits are evaluated by the nutrient density of the good and can vary slightly based on growth conditions. 

The way the food is prepared and handled will also determine the overall nutrient density of the fruits and vegetables. But generally speaking, it is safe to follow the nutritional evaluations of raw fruits and vegetables from the FDA. [1]

Beyond the Label

Unless you’re purchasing goods from a local grower, knowing more finite information about the produce your consuming can be challenging. While the FDA requires the listing of the country on the stickers for fruits and vegetables, beyond that is considered proprietary business information.[5]

The Green Industry Role

In the Green Industry, it can be challenging to find out information if you aren’t on the inside of the situation. When there are disease and pest outbreaks, our government officials often settle for only listing the affected state and not the company name. This is no different when it comes to the agricultural side of things and handling the safety of food.

In order to protect international business relationships, the same standard of discretion is applied to the produce industry. As Americans continue to populate and rely on these resources, it is the utmost responsibility of the government officials regulating these goods to protect not only those eating them but also those who grow them.

The Plant Sentry™ Role

Being a member of the Green Industry can sometimes be challenging. While we at Plant Sentry™ primarily focus on the health of plants and their shipping and restrictions requirements, we know that every piece of the puzzle is important.

How consumers purchase and select their goods plays into the giant game of chess that impacts the availability consumers have. 

This is why we do and encourage everything we can in shipping and compliance of regulations to help growers be successful so that consumers can keep their variety.


  • Citations
    1. Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. (n.d.). Nutrition Information for Raw Fruits, Vegetables, and Fish. Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/food/food-labeling-nutrition/nutrition-information-raw-fruits-vegetables-and-fish
    2. Fast Facts About Agriculture & Food. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.fb.org/newsroom/fast-facts
    3. Fischetti, M. (2013, September 1). U.S. Demand for Fruits and Vegetables Drives Up Imports. Retrieved from https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/us-demand-for-fruits-and-vegetables-drives-up-imports
    4. Grades and Standards. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.ams.usda.gov/grades-standards
    5. Grossman, E. (2014, September 24). Want to find out where your fruit was grown? Good luck. Retrieved from https://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/09/fruit-veggies-produce-origins-trade-secret/

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    Digging Up the “Dirt” On Geraniums

    Digging Up the “Dirt” On Geraniums

    Everything You Need to Know About the Ralstonia Outbreak

    As the month of April came to a close the United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) confirmed the detection of Ralstonia solanacearum race 3 biovar 2 (R3bv2) in a greenhouse in Michigan. The infection was discovered in a species of geraniums identified as the Fantasia ‘Pink Flare’ variety.

    It has been roughly sixteen years since this bacteria was last found on U.S. soil and since then has garnered itself the classification of a potential bioterrorism agent against the United State’s agriculture. In 2004, Florida’s tomato crops were threatened by the disease and led to the destruction of over 4 million plants to prevent its spread.

    How It Can Impact the U.S.

    This specific strain of Ralstonia solanacearum has the potential to impact several important agricultural crops. However, it is potatoes and tomatoes that are at the greatest risk from this disease. Both agricultural crops are common hosts of the disease and can wipe out the entire crop with infection before the symptoms can be identified.

    The bacterial wilt made its way to the U.S, this time, through an infected shipment of plants from Guatemala. Since its discovery, the foreign greenhouse responsible for the infection has voluntarily ceased all incoming and planned shipments to the United States. With an additional 288 greenhouses in 39 states who also received cuttings from this grower, APHIS has been working tirelessly to prevent the spread of this infection.

    Who & What They’re After

    The plant is targeted for eradication is the Fantasia ‘Pink Flare’ geranium. As the USDA moves through greenhouses affected by this disease they will go through and sample, isolate and destroy any of the species. Due to the spread of the infection that can occur between host plants and non-host plants, the USDA will also target other geranium species in the suspected greenhouses for the same methods of control.

    How Does This Happen?

    While the majority of Ralstonia solanacearum strains infect tropical and subtropical climates, the host of the bacteria ranges into the hundreds and can be located in agricultural goods around the world. It is in colder tropical climates that R3bv2 develops. The development of this disease is majorly identified in the highland, cooler tropical, parts of Africa, South America, and Asia. 
    In an AmericanHort webinar, hosted for awareness of the disease, Professor Caitilyn Allen of Plant Pathology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison identified that the infectious tract for this disease is through the water-transporting xylem vessels. In a series of images she showed how, on a microscopic level, the bacteria infiltrates tomato stems and quickly takes over the healthy cells of the plant.

    What To Look For

    The most common symptom of this bacterial infection is stunting in plant growth. However, this disease can also be expressed by yellowing and wilting of the leaves, and eventually death of the plant. The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension states in their reporting of the bacteria that, “Symptom expression is favored by high temperatures (85°F-95°F). Symptoms of this disease may progress rapidly after infection, but plants may remain without symptoms for extended periods.”

    The lack of symptoms that are in hosts makes the danger of this disease all the more pressing to the U.S. Agriculture. With the disease leading to a potato farmer’s nightmare, brown rot, it is truly a team effort of the industry to keep this disease from spreading.

    It is additionally important to note that while there are symptoms that can help in identifying the disease, there are also a number of ornamental plants and Nightshade family weeds that can host the disease without symptoms.

    Symptoms of Ralstonia solanacearum:

    Here are a few ways to identify if your plants may possibly be infected:

    • Upward rolling of the leaves, that eventually leads to their collapse
    • When squeezing the stem of a suspected infected plant, a milky white ooze comes out
    • Placing a suspected infected plant stem in a glass of water and after 15 minutes milky streaking of bacteria is coming out from the stem

    How to Move Forward

    While there are testing options available, they aren’t 100% accurate in many cases and can be quite expensive to carry out. Instead, the USDA is recommending that if you believe your plants to be infected by the disease, or that you have received a plant of the known infected variety to reach out to the contact facility or report the infection through the USDA State Plant Health Directors page. They will schedule a date to come out to the facility and inspect the plants, as well as obtain some first-hand information. Following their scheduling, they will issue their “Emergency Action Notification” document with a more detailed version of the following procedures.

    It is asked that you hold all plants of the Fantastia ‘Pink Flare’ variety, as well as any other geraniums or known host plants of the disease. This qualifies towards any host plants that may have been shipped between 10/2019 until 04/2020. The USDA also asks that you hold any plant material that may have been exposed or come in contact with the suspected infectious plants or any materials exposed to it.

    The suspected material will then be tested. If test results are negative, then the items are free to be moved again. However if the material is found to be contaminated, then the items will be destroyed and the area disinfected through means that have been outlined to be acceptable by the EAN procedures of the USDA.

    The Ending Our Industry Deserves

    While growers and inspectors seek out infestation to destroy this disease once again from U.S. soil, it is noteworthy to mention that 55 Canadian greenhouses have also been infected from this incident.

    As we look to the future from this occurrence, many are wondering how they can protect their crops from something like this happening again? Our answer is simple, Plant Sentry™.

    When infections like Ralstonia solanacearum are discovered, Plant Sentry™ works to immediately notify our clients of the potential risks their plants face. This communication is essential in helping to slow the spread of the disease from the grower to the vendor. 


    Early notification provided by Plant Sentry™ can reduce the potential exposure of the disease and may prevent the elimination of plants due to quarantine and destruction procedures by officials. We understand that every dollar spent should equal a dollar saved. At Plant Sentry™ we apply that mindset to protect your bottom line when a disease shows up to your nursery door. It is our responsibility as an industry to protect one another from the potential danger that a disease like this can cause. With Plant Sentry™ on your side, protection gets a whole lot easier!

    To learn more about our efforts be sure to view our other blogs!

    Citations

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    VIRUSES & VIRAL PLANTS Pt. 3

    VIRUSES & VIRAL PLANTS Pt. 3

    As we’ve made our way through the past few blogs, we’ve examined the complex nature that viruses have. We’ve gone in-depth into the realm of viruses and examined two of the most unique virus families in biology. Now, we’ll examine the third and final family of viruses that have the capacity to infect the Animalia and Plantae Kingdoms

    The first of these viruses was the Bunyaviridae and the second was the Rhabdoviridae.  The third of these rare viruses that we will be discussing is the Reoviridae family.

    As we come to a close on our examinations of rare plant viruses that can infect humans we take one more close look at the dangers these species present.

    Reoviridae

    The Basics

    Reoviridae has 2 subfamilies that have 15 genera that divide out into a total of 75 different virus species that infect a variety of hosts, including plants and animals. This virus family is the largest family of double-stranded RNA viruses, and perhaps the most understood of their kind. They have been identified in a wide variety of organisms, found in everything from an arachnid, a plant, fungi, reptiles, mammals, and more. 

    In humans, this viral family is responsible for the commonly known Rotavirus. The Rotavirus is passed from fecal matter being transmitted orally through contaminated objects and surfaces. This transmission encourages easier spread amongst children and infants. 

    But the Reoviridae viruses aren’t exclusive to humans. As mentioned above, the variety of hosts for these viruses almost seems unlimited, even infecting fish! But our major concern is the relationship these viruses have with plants and how we can prevent their spread.

    Affect on Plants

    Out of the abundance of Reoviridae viruses that exist, there are 3 genera that have approximately 14 different species that infect plants.  These three genera are Phytoreovirus, Oryzavirus, and Fijivirus

    These viruses are believed to originate in ancient invertebrates and are developmentally reliant on the vectors of leafhoppers. Without the hoppers the virus could not reproduce in most cases and would die off completely. But, with the hoppers as the host, they are able to spread their diseases to different plant vectors. Due to the lack of spread through seed, many of these viruses reproduce through larvae of the hoppers and not just in the host themselves.

    These viruses are mainly a threat to what are known as cereal crops and include rice, maize, sorghum, and barley. Each variation of these viruses affect each crop a little differently, but overall causes severe damage. As we examine these three different viral genera we should keep in mind how each of them could impact our environment if not properly managed.

    Phytoreovirus

    This virus produces the commonly known diseases of Rice Dwarf Virus and Rice Gall Dwarf Virus. Plants that are infected with these viruses exhibit defined stunting, more tillering, and leaves that are short and dark with chlorotic specks. The plants most often survive until harvest, but at that time it is often discovered that the flower containing the grain is empty.

    The damage from these viruses are mostly experienced in Southeastern Asia, but that doesn’t mean it can’t affect other areas of the world. Diseases can often go unnoticed with little symptoms to the plant until harvest time.

    This furtiveness can make the management of these pests and diseases almost impossible if not properly maintained. Cleanliness is of the utmost importance when managing stock plants. As part of Plant Sentry’s mission, we maintain constant vigilance on diseases like these to keep our growers informed and their plants healthy.

    Orzyavirus

    The second genera of the Reoviridae virus family to infect plants is the Orzyavirus. One of its species is the Rice Ragged Stunt Virus. This disease is transmitted by the Brown Planthopper and reduces the amount of plant density and grain production. This virus is most commonly found in tropical Asian climates where the conditions are optimal for continuous habitation of the Brown Planthopper and rice to be grown all year long.

    Much like the Phytovirus the threat that this disease poses to crop quality and density is significant. While it primarily occurs in other parts of the world outside the United States, it still has the potential to impact our food supply and the plants that we grow. It is oftentimes that once a species makes its way to our country that a virus or disease mutates and infects its new surroundings differently than it had in its original habitat.

    Fijivirus

    The last genera of this viral family is the Fijivirus. In recent years these viruses have primarily been found targeting rice production in China. But many years before, they were found to be ruining sugar crops in Australia

    Currently, the Southern Rice Black-Streaked Dwarf Virus is transferred by the White-Backed Planthopper and causes damage to rice crops. The earlier the plant is infected, the more damage that is done.

    Similar to the other diseases we’ve reviewed today, this virus can cause dwarfing, stiffening of leaves, lack of grain production, and increased tillering. The infected plant leaves are often dark and short with some ruffling on the edges.  

    Like so many other diseases, every component of its management can potentially affect its neighbor. As we’ve seen in recent months, all it takes is one vector to carry disease to a new environment and create a dramatic impact. Habitats and ecosystems may vary from place to place, but many of these species are genetically designed to thrive on its unsuspecting victims.

    How It Affects You

    As we come to a close with our examinations of viruses, we hope that this has made you more curious and considerate of how viruses can infect our world. Where we once thought viruses to be limited, maybe now we’re a little more open-minded on just how easily they can spread. As the world reemerges from its quarantine cocoon, we recognize that our perception of viruses has changed, hopefully for the better.

    At Plant Sentry we plan to use our new-found knowledge to help our growers achieve optimal plant health. We work around the clock to provide our clients with the highest level of awareness against disease and pests. Through our expertise in disease management we know the best practices that will make work easier on growers for seasons to come. In this ever-changing world, there has never been a better time to do the right thing and keep your plants safe and healthy. To learn more about our practices visit the Our Services page and see why what we’re doing makes a BIG difference.

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    VIRUSES & VIRAL PLANTS Pt. 2

    VIRUSES & VIRAL PLANTS Pt. 2

    Last week we shared a brief introduction with you about three rare virus families. What makes these virus families so unique is their ability to infect humans, animals, and plants.

    Out of 23 virus families, only 3 of them can cross between the Animalia and Plantae Kingdoms!

    We looked at the Bunyaviridae family first and discovered that it is responsible for the Tospovirus, which is commonly seen in Thrips and can quickly cause stunted growth in important plants.

    This week we’d like to take a closer look at the Rhabdoviridae virus family.

    RHABDOVIRIDAE

    The Basics

    The Rhabdoviridae virus family officially contains 20 genera and has 143(4) species that are negative-sense and consist of a single-strand RNA. While the family of viruses can be hosted by vertebrates, arthropods, and plants, many of the plant and vertebrae viruses are arthropod-borne.

    Out of the 20 genera that exist in this viral family there are 2 that are most commonly known to humans worldwide. As I’m sure you could guess by the name, one of the most infamous viruses of this family is Rabies. This virus may seem confined to only animals in developed portions of the world. But, in the countries of India and Africa, this virus remains a serious threat to humans. There are vaccines and antibodies to combat the virus, but don’t be fooled! If left untreated the disease has a 100% chance of death.

    The second most notorious virus of this family is vesicular stomatitis. This disease affects horses, cows, sheep, pigs, goats, llamas, alpacas, and occasionally humans. The result of contracting this virus is an influenza-like illness. While this virus may not be as severe as the Rabies virus, it still has an important economic impact on countries like the United States, who have eradicated similar diseases.

    Affect on Plants

    Now that you’ve seen the terror that this family of viruses can have on humans and animals, how does it affect plants? Well, I’m glad we finally got to this point. 

    There are 4 different genera of this viral family that infiltrate plants: Cytorhabdovirus, Dichorhavirus, Nucleorhabdovirus, and Varicosavirus. 

    Cytorhabdorvirus

    This genus of viruses is commonly spread through arthropod vectors such as aphids, leafhoppers, and planthoppers. In 2015 a Novel Cytorhabdovirus was found in rice plants in China. The result of infection was dwarfing, yellow striping of leaves, mosaic and twisting of leaves, and eventually production of inferior heads of the plant bearing mostly few and unfilled grains. Typical symptoms of varieties of this virus in other plants include yellow striping, mosaic, and twisting of the leaves.

    Dichorhavirus

    This genus of the Rhabdoviridae virus is typically transmitted by mites. These viruses generate symptoms of localized lesions on leaves, stems, and fruits of plants that have high economical value. These viruses most commonly affect citrus, coffee, and orchids. Between 2013 to 2016 a new Citrus leprosis virus was discovered in Brazil. Citrus leprosis (CL) is a viral disease that produces necrotic and chlorotic lesions on the leaves, branches, and fruit of the citrus plant. This disease causes a significant yield reduction in citrus orchards. Additional diseases that are commonly seen from this virus also include Orchid Fleck Virus (OFV) and  Coffee Ringspot Virus (CRV).

    Nucleorhabdovirus

    This genus of viruses is transmitted commonly by leafhoppers, planthoppers, and aphids but can also be spread through vegetation propagation and mechanical measures. One of the most well-known variations of this virus is the Maize Mosaic Virus (MMV). This disease has been infiltrating plants since 1960. But in more modern times, there are many new varieties coming to light. In 2010, an alfalfa plant located in Stadl-Paura, Austria displayed symptoms of viral infection. In 2018 and 2019 the virally infected plants have been evaluated by scientists and have identified a new novel Nucleorhabdovirus strain. It is proposed as Alfalfa-associated Nucleorhabdovirus (AaNV). The disease can cause leaf rolling, mottling, yellowing, curling, and chlorotic lesions.

    Varicosavirus

    This genus naturally occurs in two families of plants: Compositae (which largely contain Angiosperms or flowering plants) and Solanaceae (which contain nightshade or potato family of flowering plants). The diseases of this genera are traditionally spread through soil and hydroponic systems by zoospores of a fungus called Olpidium virulentus. The two most common diseases associated with this viral genus is the Mirafiori Lettuce Big-Vein virus (MLBVV) and the Lettuce Big-Vein associated Virus (LBVaV). The LBVaV has been reported in many parts of the world including the United States and Europe. As of 2015 LBVaV infected lettuce plants have been observed in the central region of Columbia. The infected plants exhibit symptoms of vein clearing, big vein (hence the name), ruffling of the edges of the outer leaves, and small to no head.

    What Does This All Mean?

    While many of the viruses mentioned may originate somewhere else in the world. The impact each of these diseases has on the United States shouldn’t go unnoticed. Many of these diseases and pests are seen here in the United States because of the lack of diligence from outside countries. 

    Plant diseases and pests wreak havoc on our agriculture and threaten our environment, food, and jobs!  

    Amidst the current pandemic, the Plant Industry maintains a firm ground in the economy as people look to bring the outdoors inside. With mandated quarantines and economic decline, many people have looked to invest in their surroundings instead of their experiences.

    This steady stream of potential has forced many in-store only sellers to take-on the e-commerce approach. While it may sound “hunky-dory”, many of these companies are inexperienced when it comes to selling across state lines, and do not realize the risks to our homes, gardens, and environment. 

    Companies that aren’t using Plant Sentry, may not be protecting your plants!

    Plant Sentry works around the clock to protect plants, YOUR plants. Growers that use Plant Sentry say to their buyers, “We’ve done our part to protect these plants from disease, pests, and invasive species so you can do your part in caring for them.” 

    So when you’re reemerging from your quarantine and looking to improve your landscape, look for the Plant Sentry seal of verification and know that we’ve done our part so you can enjoy yours!

    If you’re interested in learning how to protect your plants Contact Us today!