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The Seriousness of Sudden Oak Death

The Seriousness of Sudden Oak Death

The Midwest, previously safeguarded from the detrimental disease known as Sudden Oak Death, has now suffered a critical disaster.

In the state of Indiana, the Department of Natural Resources discovered several varieties of infected rhododendrons, which are believed to have originated in the Pacific Northwest. The West Coast is an area commonly impacted by the disease. The plants were sold in over ninety stores across the state, transferring contaminated material not just between Indiana counties, but to nine other states as well. These states had been unaffected by Sudden Oak Death before the incident.

Sudden Oak Death is a fungal disease that quickly eradicates healthy oak species. Additionally, over one hundred other plant species are vulnerable to infection. These species are capable of transferring the disease to any oak planted within a six-foot range. The fungus can be transported by the wind, making it even more dangerous to the environment. No treatment exists.

Why Is Sudden Oak Death So Serious?

First, the introduction of the disease to Indiana won’t simply destroy the state’s oak trees, but it now has the power to kill off oaks in other states that received infested shipments.

Second, Indiana’s Department of Natural Resources has to go through an extensive process to track and eliminate the infected plants from the shipment and also deal with infected oaks if this would occur. This involves inspecting any possible host plants that may be carrying the disease, too. Currently, over 1,500 rhododendrons have been destroyed, and approximately 1,500 more are being quarantined.

Third, shipment of any more plant material from the nurseries held responsible must undergo thorough examination to prevent further spread of the disease. Most importantly, however, the introduction of Sudden Oak Death could persist and result in future devastation, both economic and environmental.

Large sums of money are necessary to track and eliminate the infected varieties, as well as any discovered host plants. Stores that had been selling these plants may suffer business losses from frightened customers, too.

Even more, though, the death of thousands of oaks could negatively impact the lumber industry long-term. Oak is an expensive lumber material, and trees are a top value crop in Indiana among other states. With significantly fewer oaks, the lumber industry will suffer an extreme loss.

Finally, the death of these oaks will take away one of the most majestic trees in the nation. As oak trees age, they give a beautiful appearance, gracefully towering over their surroundings. Oaks are one of the most known historic plants, often complementing parks and plantations as well as the local landscape.

As seen, Sudden Oak Death has the power to devastate. With such great concerns for both the environment and economy, raising awareness of serious plant diseases is crucial. As consumers, tree-huggers, and everyday people, we should all take with us an important piece of information: spread of pests and disease is detrimental, and it is also preventable. Promoting awareness of such disasters as Sudden Oak Death is simply the first step in solution.

References:

Indianapolis Star Article on Sudden Oak Death

Nursery Management Magazine

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Invasive Plants Have a Big Impact on Freshwater Habitats

Invasive Plants Have a Big Impact on Freshwater Habitats

Trout Unlimited, a nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving freshwater habitats, has been improving environments for many years. Working across the nation to protect and restore freshwater habitats, Trout Unlimited faces multiple challenges. One battle in particular has proven to be a persistent challenge… fighting invasive plant species.

Though the nature of surrounding plant species may not seem significant, invasive plant species have a serious influence on freshwater habitats. Not only do they crowd out native vegetation that shades trout streams, but invasive species are also a nuisance to bikers, fishermen, hikers, and kayakers attempting to navigate such thickets. This often results in a negative impact on local economies.

In 2016, Trout Unlimited conducted a study in the Driftless Area of Wisconsin, specifically looking at the characteristics of a trout economy. Restoration of productive trout streams in southeastern Wisconsin had generated billions of dollars in tourism and created more jobs.

1,200 miles of habitat was restored, totaling 24,000 square miles in the Driftless Area. An increase from $1.1 billion dollars in 2008 to nearly $1.6 billion dollars by 2016 was seen as the percentage of visitors drastically improved. These visitors are critical, as they also spend money at gas stations, specialty shops, hotels, restaurants, and more. This creates a multiplier effect.

When asked, 88% of visitors reported recognizing that the areas had been restored. They had decided to fish the Driftless Area because of its new beauty and accessible healthy trout streams.

Another study conducted by the Department of Biology at the University of Dayton concluded that honeysuckle Lonicera maackii was highly disruptive to the biomass in surrounding streams. Driving out native plants necessary for maintaining biodiversity for many species, including trout, the plant creates a very dense canopy that almost completely shades the opportunity for new plant life to emerge. Furthermore, it limits the possibility for stream regeneration to occur.

Removing the Honeysuckle eliminated massive leaf barriers, allowing native leaves to support the stream life. The University of Dayton concluded, as many others have, that invasive plant species have a strong influence on macroinvertebrates and their population survival.

Invasive Plants Are An Ultimate Challenge

Altering aquatic food webs necessary to sustain life is especially a prominent issue. With millions of dollars used to battle and remove invasive plants in such regions as the Driftless Area, it is evident how significant the issue is. However, investment in conservation and restoration has proven to improve both local habitats and economies. As a result, it is important to consider prevention methods. This way, the issue at hand could be fought before it expands.

Prevention methods are an effective solution, and one in particular works to protect environments from plants that pose harm: Plant Sentry™.

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Celebrate Earth Day Every Day

Celebrate Earth Day Every Day

There has been a flurry of information and advertisement relating to this past Earth Day. This time of year, we encourage everyone to take a step back and reflect. What have you done in the past to improve our planet? What new things can you do to better our Earth?

In reality, Earth Day is not a day that comes once a year. If we had lived in the Vince Lombardi era, we would have heard him say, “winning is not a sometime thing, it is an all the time thing.”

This principle applies to our stewardship of the planet. Just imagine if everyone thought this way about Earth Day—that it is an everyday celebration, not just an annual one.

Plant Material is Critical

In America, planting is key. Raising plants successfully is vital to creating the necessary carbon sinks that help clean the air and better our planet. To ensure this success, it is important that we plant trees, shrubs, and ground covers in the right place.

Plant Sentry™ operates beyond the scope of shipping legal plants to the place of planting. We want to ensure that planting success is achieved at the highest of levels.

Of course, this starts with purchasing compliant plants that meet all regulatory requirements. When shipped plants arrive, a large portion of their growing success depends on the tender care provided by you, the consumer. It is therefore helpful to understand the essential factors of planting.

Proper Care of Plants Reduces Pests and Diseases

A single environment can have a range of planting variables, including soil types, sun to shade ratios, wind patterns, and moisture content, provided either by you or Mother Nature herself. It is important to consider the amount of water in the area, particularly.

Homes with gutters and large roof surface areas can dump great amounts of water into the planting environment. Most people overlook this, and it can lead to accidental overwatering that increases root rot pathogens. Additionally, any undue stress on a tree increases its odds of hosting pests, pathogens, and weeds.

Trees are often planted without mulch, but mulch provides insulation for the new roots while keeping lawn mowers and weed whackers away from the collars and trunks. In fact, these two machines are the number one reason why trees never make it to old age. Damage to these tree regions increases the likelihood of secondary bacterial and fungal cankers among other pests like borers.

Finally, proper fertilization – in combination with a good biological root stimulant – can help keep plants at optimal health. This will keep unwanted weeds and invasive insect and plant species at bay.

All things considered, the care you provide your plant from day one will help ease the growing transition. Supplemental care will become a breeze each day of the plant’s life.

In retrospect, Earth Day is every day. Every day that you enjoy your plants is what makes the experience incredible. The care you give will keep them healthy for years to come. Please, take the time to enjoy your plants. Earth Day is every day, and Plant Sentry™ is here to support it.

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Plant Shipment: It’s More Than the Box

Plant Shipment: It’s More Than the Box

Plants are being shipped from state to state more frequently today than ever before. Most consumers are unaware of what’s involved to ship and deliver healthy plants without significant economic and environmental risks.

Shipping Plants Successfully is Not Easy

Some companies claim that their boxing technique is better than the competitors. Does this single step guarantee you are getting the best plant? Certainly not, industry best practices now include certified processes that ensure plants have been cared for properly and verified not to spread harmful pests, diseases, or invasive species.

The Plant Sentry™ process starts by working with state and federal officials. We ensure that every step is followed to the letter of the law, and we support growers in their compliance efforts before they ship a plant intra- or interstate. The entire inspection team places another set of eyes on each step in the critical process needed to get you a healthy plant.

How do you know this inspection has taken place? You should know immediately, as each plant article must contain a general plant inspection certificate issued by the state. In some cases, there may even be a federal shield on the outside of the box.

These established guidelines help protect our valuable resources—including agricultural commodities, urban municipalities, water, and the environment—from billions of dollars in damage each year. The utilization of state and federal inspectors is a great help in saving your hard-earned tax dollars.

Thinking Outside the Box…

It’s true that not all boxes are created equal. However, it’s not just the box that protects the plant. Growing techniques, inspections, and care along the way all play a big part in protecting plants.

Most online vendors do not have standard operating procedures to make sure the plant care is consistent and regulated. At Plant Sentry™, we employ the rigid guidelines of the American Standards for Nursery Stock and align with the Systems Approach to Nursery Certification Standards (SANC) among all other sustainability practices and the latest science generated by our best universities.

At Plant Sentry™, we work with growers to achieve successful shipping of healthy plants to your door. We listen to renowned universities, knowledgeable state and federal officials, and most importantly, we listen to you. Fine attention to detail, grower and staff empowerment, team engagement, and assistance from state and federal officials is a systems approach you will not find outside of Plant Sentry™.

Our e-commerce certification sets us apart from the rest. A healthy plant grown at its original location and shipped fresh to you is the best prospect. It is no different than picking a fresh green bean from the garden. Wouldn’t you feel more confident purchasing a plant through a certified source?

You could have the best box design in the world, but it is only one small component of a larger, critical process. Choose Plant Sentry™ certified growers and retailers to ensure your plants and the environment are considered with integrity at every stage of the plant shipping process.

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Spotted Lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) Spreading Fast

Spotted Lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) Spreading Fast

The spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) arrived in Pennsylvania, United States in 2014 on a suspected shipment of stone from Asia. Though the most frequently blamed suspect is plant materials, many foreign invasive species actually arrive through unconventional methods such as pallet wood, packing materials, stone, and more.

Our nation becomes a lottery as pests randomly land in various states, causing major headaches. Our hearts go out to Pennsylvania and other surrounding states for having to battle such a pest and all other issues that come along with it.

The preferred feeding choice of this insect is Tree of Heaven; however, it eats just about any plant. It tends to favor fruiting plants. Affected industries include wineries, orchards and forests. The fruit industry in particular has been hard hit.

“Does Severe Cold Weather Kill This Insect?”

Unfortunately, no. These pests are extremely difficult to control. The adults will succumb to the cold, but unfortunately, the egg masses will not. This awful pest has a unique waxy coating that protects its egg masses from chemicals and oils, and extreme temperatures, whether hot or cold.

SLF-spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) 2nd and 3rd instar nymph (black), 4th instar nymph (red body) in Pennsylvania, on July 16, 2018. USDA-ARS Photo by Stephen Ausmus.

Its feeding habits are very destructive, leaving a sappy mess behind as evidence that can wreck outdoor items such as furniture, stain driveways, and vehicles. Other damage may affect home siding, roofs, and glass. Nymphs and adults feed on the plant sap, literally sucking the life out of them. The feeding damage aesthetically scars each plant, turning beautiful landscapes into an eye sore. In some cases, the pest’s feeding behaviors are enough to kill plants.

Spotted Lanternfly is On the Move

It is now been found in several states, including MA, MD, DE, NJ, NY, and VA. It is important to note that this insect does not move far on its own; it is rather transported, most often by firewood. Other avenues include – but are not limited to – vehicles, boats, plants, lumber, and other outdoor items.

Because of the multitude of ways the spotted lanternfly may be transferred, it is up to us to inspect these items before transporting or shipping them to other states outside of their quarantine zones.

Costing a Fortune

This pest is already causing multi-million dollar problems, and control efforts have been funded in the new farm bill. It is estimated that around $2.7 million dollars has been spent just for the state of Pennsylvania alone.

Research is also being funded to find better control strategies and resistance mechanisms that can be bred into plants. Unfortunately to date, there are no natural predators found that can control this pest.

Next Steps to Stop the Spread of Spotted Lanternfly

Plant Sentry™ is helping the effort by prompting all plant companies to think about pest, disease, and invasive species problems before shipments take place. Quarantined areas will require extra inspection and assessment before shipment can take place.

If we are to eliminate the spotted lanternfly and slow down its current movement considerably, it will take all hands on deck and available tools. Please do your part and be sure to inspect all outdoor items. If purchasing plants online, make sure you buy from a certified vendor.

Additional Resources

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Plant Sentry™ Looks At National Invasive Species Week

Plant Sentry™ Looks At National Invasive Species Week

National Invasive Species Week is here. It’s time to salute all dedicated universities, organizations, landowners, nurseries, plant breeders and consumers for doing their part to help combat this serious environmental threat.

Over time, invasive species cost the United States $1.5 billion annually. They have disastrous effects on agriculture, municipalities, and habitats. To those who have experienced the common struggle of chopping out buckthorn or pulling garlic mustard, you understand the difficulty of eliminating invasive species problems.

Plant Sentry™ works with universities, organizations, and officials from across the country to prevent future problems. We accomplish this by eliminating the purchase of plants that pose threats to their particular region at the consumer level, as these plants could cause irreversible harm. Additionally, our staff is extremely committed, serving on various committees to stay well-informed and providing ideas to mitigate both current and future invasive problems.

Organizations we work with are also developing wonderful predictor tools. This allows the green industry to stay ahead of future invasive species issues, growing only plants that stay at bay when planted in our landscapes. These tools furthermore help plant breeders in the green industry remain focused on developing plants that stay in check. That way, consumers and municipalities do not have to worry about plants getting out of control or escaping their landscape.

It is important to note that each state regulates invasive plants differently, as they know their particular region best. Some plants are highly invasive in certain parts of the country but pose no problems in others. The nationwide cooperation among states has strengthened the effort to continue knocking back invasive problems, and in some cases, it has even eliminated them.

Invasive species include more than plants. There are insects, aquatic plants, and both aquatic and land organisms that also play a role. Believe it or not, there exist invasive animals too, such as feral hogs.

In recent years, two prominent insect species have made an appearance: Emerald ash borer and the spotted lanternfly. Emerald ash borer, which has been around longer, has cost the states billions of dollars. Our hope is that this super cold winter has knocked this pest way back, maybe even eliminating some cases of it. 

This week, Plant Sentry™ honors all that are participating in invasive species related activities across the country. In a sense, it is everyone’s duty to be vigilant at the time of plant purchase. However, we understand the chaos of daily life, and that is why we are doing our best to ensure you are protected when you purchase a wonderful plant for your yard.

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February Is Idaho Potato Month

February Is Idaho Potato Month

You could really make the case that this should be a national celebration. After all, potatoes have been a staple in America since 1719, after being introduced in the 1690s.

Now extremely popular, this crop has certainly made its mark. There were approximately 1.05 million acres of potatoes harvested in 2017 at a value of $3.7 billion dollars.

About 60% of those harvested potatoes become French fries, potato chips, dehydrated goods, and other potato products. Imagine if ten, even twenty, percent of your French fries disappeared. I am sure you would not be happy.

Potatoes have serious pest and disease problems. Keeping crops clean is critical for retaining high harvest percentages so that producers can deliver to your table.

Plant Sentry™ is upholding its promise to prevent the accidental shipment of regulated plants that could put your potatoes in harm’s way. There are many vegetable shipment regulations put into place for very good reason.

Some vegetables are regulated for Colorado Potato Beetle and Potato rot diseases. Potato plants cannot be shipped interstate or intrastate unless they go through a rigorous certification process. Certifying that plant material is clean and free from injurious pests and diseases is very important to potato growers. In fact, a massive amount of research is completed every year to keep potatoes ahead of these severe pests and diseases.

The next time you go to purchase a plant online, make sure that you are using a reputable vendor. These vendors use systems that put the potato farmer first, allowing for a healthy supply of the valued commodity (potatoes) to satisfy your needs.

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Plant Sentry™ Maximizes Your Profits

Plant Sentry™ Maximizes Your Profits

Plant Sentry™ is Very Easy to Use

Nurseries across the country are taking a serious look at Plant Sentry. Their goal in using the tool to protect their business in the face of an ever-changing regulatory climate.

Here’s how it works. It starts with providing your botanical plant inventory and the locations you ship from and to. From there, the Plant Sentry™ team audits each plant article and identifies the state and federal regulations for pests, diseases, and invasive species for your plants and locations. Once complete, you’ll have access to your database of plants & shipping restrictions through our web portal and you’ll receive a suggested compliance list for each plant article that may need some resolution.

This includes general purpose information as to why it a plant article may not be shippable to a particular state. The information will alert you with simple reasoning: often pest, disease, or invasive plant. This analysis helps prevent the accidental shipment of the plant article in question that may pose a threat to shipment region.

Each plant article with reasoning should be submitted to your state or federal regulatory official. We’ll provide information that will help you coordinate with the appropriate officials. Then, your state and/or federal official will instruct you on what needs to be done to become compliant if a pathway exists for shipment of the plant article.

Once compliant, you will be able to add the blocked states back onto plant availability and shipment lists, enabling you to re-open that market. If there are multiple regulatory items, you must decide which ones are feasible or economical for you based on the product that the market will serve. Thus, every plant article you receive compliance for adds more markets to your list to serve.

Plant Sentry also offers more stringent guidance for plants that may be in question.  Hence, Plant Sentry™ provides you with vital plant regulatory information to determine whether a plant is safe to ship to an area. This is part of our unique model in which multiple methods are utilized to ensure we reach the green industry’s goal of minimizing, reducing, and eliminating the spread of pests.

This leading approach adds one more line of defense to place the right plant in the right environment. You’ll be able to maximize out on happy customers and profits while keeping your company image intact.

Additional, innovative developments to the Plant Sentry™ Approach align with our continued improvement motto. Plant Sentry™ not only helps point you in the right direction for efficiently completing processes needed for full compliance, but it also offers direction on plant inspection, assistance in locating state or federal official contact information, and guidance as to how to interact with the regulatory officials.

In addition, this approach can deliver sound educational advice to aid in making solid economic decisions based on any plant issues in question. Our team’s years of production experience, combined with our work alongside established organizations and use of predictor tools, can help determine future outcomes of plants and their potential effects on the environment, agriculture commodities, and more.

Expansions coming soon will further allow for faster processing, making it easier to get the information you need. Extra features will include alerting you to an unrecognizable container size. Altogether, it is our priority to listen to our extensive network of professional growers that includes some of the nation’s best.

The information growers provide is crucial to optimizing the tools that will help their businesses. Most importantly, our mission of continued improvement will remain highly regarded as Plant Sentry™ moves forward in advancing the green industry.