Commissioner Troxler: Plant Inspectors Looking for Pests, Diseases

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Inspectors with the NCDA&CS Plant Industry Division are fanning out across the state checking nurseries for plant stock to ensure consumers are purchasing healthy plants as they begin to turn their attention to getting out in their yards and working. Ag Commissioner Steve Troxler explains.

  • The warm weather has me thinking about yard and home projects around my house and I know I am not alone.
  • As the planting season gets started, I wanted to talk about the work our Plant Industry Division inspectors do to check nursery stock for plant pests, diseases and noxious weeds.
  • We have 19 plant protection specialists that cover the state from the mountains to the coast. In 2017, they inspected 4,124 nursery dealers and nurseries.
  • Most nursery licenses are annual, requiring a yearly inspection. The exception is for nurseries that are less than an acre and do not sell outside the state. Those are inspected every three years.
  • These include nurseries that produce the plants and trees, as well as nursery dealers who resell nursery stock. So that includes your big box home improvement stores, farmers markets and even grocery stores.
  • Nursery stock covers wild or cultivated plants or parts of plants, trees, shrubs, vines, bulbous plants and roots, grafts and buds. It does not cover annual plants, cut flowers, plants intended for indoor use, plant parts without roots, and seeds.
  • As our inspectors are out in the greenhouses, fields and stores, they are looking for any signs of pests or diseases. It is important that these locations are selling healthy plants, because diseases and pests can be easily spread from one location to another. It’s the same with noxious weeds.
  • We see that often with pests from other countries that hitch a ride in packing materials or other products.
  • When pests or noxious weeds are discovered that stock is quarantined and destroyed.
  • Inspectors begin their nursery work in April and will continue to inspect locations through September. They typically concentrate their efforts earlier on greenhouses, which have more plants in the spring.
  • We encourage nursery owners and growers to let us know if they think they may have a problem. They can contact our Plant Industry Division at 919-707-3730. It is better to catch a problem before it becomes a bigger problem.