|2000 Annual Report|
The Division of Plant Industry's goal is to safeguard New Jersey's plant resources from injurious insect and disease pests. Achieving this goal becomes increasingly important as the globalization of the world economy creates new pathways through which foreign plant pests and diseases can enter the Garden State.
Through its detection, inspection, eradication and control programs, NJDA helps to ensure that farmers and others who buy and sell plants and plant products enjoy high quality, pest-free products. The Division of Plant Industry operates programs which certify that plant stock for interstate and international shipments is free of plant pests; conducts surveys for new plant pests; protects forested communities from defoliation and tree loss caused by the gypsy moth; inspects honeybees for harmful bee diseases and pests; regulates the quality of plant seeds; and produces and releases beneficial insects to reduce crop and environmental damage and decrease dependence on chemical pest and weed controls.
The department's participation in the Cooperative Agricultural Pest Survey (CAPS) Program took on greater significance this year in the face of continuing threats from beyond our borders against New Jersey's agricultural crops and ornamental trees. CAPS, a cooperative effort between the USDA's Animal Plant Health Inspection Service's Plant Protection and Quarantine Program (APHIS/PPQ), state universities and state departments of agriculture throughout the nation, became a keystone in NJDA's efforts to protect our agricultural and natural resources.
However, during the search for this insect, adult and larval stages of the cerambycid beetle Hesperophanes campestris, a relative of the Asian long-horned beetle, were found in Middlesex County in 1998 in crating material from China. Following an immediate eradication program at the site by APHIS/PPQ, monitoring continued at warehouse sites around the state where wooden packaging from China might be stored. Through the end of FY00 trap results were negative.
A third wood-borer, the Japanese cedar long-horned beetle, was first detected in the eastern United States in North Carolina in 1997 and in Connecticut in 1998, leading to surveys for the pest at 10 sites in New Jersey in 2000. Traps were set in six counties with the beetle detected in five them. Because it appears that this pest may be widespread, NJDA alerted growers and shippers of nursery stock and increased surveillance of susceptible nursery and retail sites.
A potentially serious threat to the Garden State's peach and other stone fruit producers surfaced when plum pox virus was found in orchards in Adams County, PA, one of New Jersey's prime sources for stone fruit trees and budwood. The disease, previously found only in the Mediterranean, the Middle East and Chile, results in unmarketable fruit and tree mortality.
The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture quickly established a quarantine to prohibit the movement of stone fruit trees and budwood within and out of the quarantined area. USDA issued a Declaration of Emergency empowering APHIS/PPQ to conduct a control and eradication program for the disease wherever it was found in the United States to prevent the spread of plum pox from known infested areas.
As part of APHIS/PPQ's national plum pox surveillance program, NJDA collected foliage samples from stone fruit nurseries, orchards that supply budwood to stone fruit nurseries, and orchards that have received Prunus material from the infected area of Pennsylvania. During spring and summer 2000, NJDA laboratory staff analyzed over 10,000 leaf samples for the plum pox virus and found no sign of the disease.
All nursery stock sold in New Jersey or exported to other states or countries is required to be free of injurious pests so that ornamental plants purchased by consumers do not spread pests to other plants. This year more than 15,400 acres in over 900 nurseries were inspected and certified free of dangerous insects and diseases. Infested stock was treated or destroyed to ensure that only pest-free stock was offered for sale. In addition, NJDA issued 371 state and 113 federal phytosanitary certificates enabling export of plants and plant material to other states or countries. NJDA inspectors also certified 769 garden centers and landscapers as plant dealers for 2000.
During the second half of FY00, division staff inspected nearly eight million vegetable transplants, primarily leek, escarole and endive, cabbage, collard and Swiss chard that were shipped into the state for use by New Jersey farmers. The vegetable transplant inspection program helps ensure that New Jersey vegetable growers are supplied with high quality transplants that are free from plant diseases or insect pests.
Under the Division of Plant Industry's biological control program, exotic and native beneficial insects are raised for release into the field to control invasive plant pests of agricultural crops, forests, and sensitive ecological environments. Biological controls reduce the amount of pesticide residue in the environment and minimize pest resistance to existing pesticides while protecting crops, forests and valuable environmental habitats.
This year, the Division of Plant Industry conducted eight biological control programs, four of which required laboratory rearing of beneficial insects for release into the field. The goal was to reduce specific pest populations below economically significant levels and to establish new beneficial insect species in the state. These four programs included:
The gypsy moth is New Jersey's most damaging insect pest of shade and forest trees. In FY00, after nearly 30 years and three major cycles of the pest, there were signs that major biological control factors are dampening the ravages of this pest. This is primarily due to NJDA's annual aerial gypsy moth suppression program using the biological insecticide, Bacillus thuringiensis (B.t.), the rearing and distribution of imported parasites and predators and the natural widespread distribution of a gypsy moth fungal disease.
In partnership with the U.S. Forest Service, this year the Division of Plant Industry again offered eligible municipalities the opportunity to participate in the Gypsy Moth Cooperative Suppression Program. Through the annual program, the division locates gypsy moth-infested residential areas using aerial and ground survey techniques, prepares an environmental impact statement which enables participating municipalities to qualify for 50 percent federal reimbursement of treatment costs, and supervises aerial B.t. treatments each spring.
In spring 2000, only 385 acres in three municipalities in Salem and Burlington Counties were treated under the program, the smallest suppression program ever conducted in the state against this insect.
NJDA worked closely with the Beekeeping Advisory Group to address areas of concern to beekeepers and related grower communities, such as the potential for the introduction of the small hive beetle (SHB) by imported colonies during FY00. The group helped NJDA generate guidelines for handling this recently-discovered pest, leading ultimately to amendment of the SHB quarantine to restrict the importation of colonies infested with SHB larvae only.
No significant parasitic mite infestations were detected in the 9,790 out-of-state colonies shipped into New Jersey for commercial pollination of millions of dollars worth of fruit crops, blueberries and cranberries.
The New Jersey Legislature appropriated $130,000 to NJDA for honeybee inspection and research through passage of A1078, known as the "Bee Bill" NJDA immediately sought proposals for research on overwintering of bees, mite
Management and hive nutrition before selecting Rutgers University to begin a three-year research program on bees. Research results will have a major impact on the state's beekeeping industry.
The Seed Certification and Control program protects farmers, vegetable plant growers, the turf industry and other consumers from purchasing contaminated, mislabeled, and inferior seed products that result in lower crop production and economic loss. Unfair trade practices and untruthful seed labeling can result in costly weed removal efforts on sod farms and golf courses and higher farm production costs for many agricultural products.
This year only seven percent of the 162 samples of vegetable, turfgrass and field crop seed tested for farmers, golf courses and wholesalers had to be placed under stop-sale orders by NJDA inspectors and removed from the marketplace.
During FY00, 69 samples representing 601,852 pounds of agricultural seed and 25 samples of turfgrass seed representing 22,400 pounds were inspected and sampled for quality control testing. All lots tested were in compliance with the seed law.
A total of 73 lots of vegetable seed sold to New Jersey vegetable growers were inspected and sampled for quality control. Laboratory analysis found this seed to be of good quality but vigor testing of several different kinds of vegetable seed found that less than ideal conditions could result in lower germination. This service provided valuable information to growers who had to decide which lots of seed to plant early in the growing season.
Turf seed samples were taken from 21 lots of certified turf seed shipped to New Jersey from other states. These samples were tested to determine eligibility for use in the interagency certified seed program which attests to high standards of genetic identity and purity. Under strict supervision by the division, seed wholesalers mixed a total of 60,950 pounds of high quality turf seed for use by sod growers.
Conservation plant material developed by USDA and used primarily for coastal soil stabilization continued to play an important role in preventing beach erosion. Plant growers entered 36 acres of conservation plant material in the certification program. Several different kinds of soil conservation plants were inspected at the Cape May Plant Materials Center for distribution to growers in New Jersey and throughout the Northeast.
The plant laboratory services unit provides technical support for the regulatory programs of the Division of Plant Industry with primary testing emphasis on seed, apiary, and plant protection programs.
In FY00 the expertise of the laboratory staff was of critical importance to livestock producers around the state as the drought of 1999 raised the possibility of nitrate and mycotoxin poisoning of livestock through feed contamination. Because of the drought, field corn plants absorbed nitrates from the fertilized soil but could not metabolize them properly, leading to the potential for nitrate poisoning if drought-stressed corn silage was fed to animals. NJDA's laboratory staff prepared nitrate test kits for use by Rutgers Cooperative Extension agents either in the field or at their offices.
When drought-stunted corn plants dried and cracked, they also became prime targets for fungi which produce potent toxins that could be just as lethal to farm animals as the concentrated nitrates. NJDA lab staff offered mycotoxin tests on feed so that county agents could help producers develop safe feed mixtures for each species of livestock.
In addition to these emergency services, the lab continued the full panel of testing programs and services the agriculture industry has come to rely on throughout the year, such as analysis for troublesome or noxious weeds, and germination and vigor testing. Vigor testing information helps growers better manage planting times and establish optimal growing and seed storage conditions while germination testing establishes the percentage of seed that will germinate under specific conditions.
apiary inspection program, the laboratory analyzed bees for Varroa and
tracheal mites and tested for American foulbrood, a bacterial disease
of bees. Thanks to a new test, the laboratory can not only find Varroa
mites but also determine if they are resistant to the widely used pesticide
fluvalinate. Work is proceeding on ways to screen the bacterium, Bacillus
larvae, which causes American foulbrood, for resistance to terramycin,
a popular foulbrood control.