Don’t bring young apple and pear trees from Estonia

6.5.2014

<p>Planting material brought from Estonia by amateur gardeners can spread the harmful fireblight plant disease to Finland. Certain fruit trees and ornamental shrubs may only be brought into Finland if they are cultivated in controlled nurseries and carry a special plant passport. The disease was found in Estonia in 2012.</p>

Fireblight is a destructive bacterial disease affecting certain trees and shrubs. It is difficult to eradicate, because all the host plants of fireblight must be destroyed across a wide area around the occurrence. The disease is found in all European Union states with the exception of Finland.

The main host plants of the disease among crop plants are apples and pears and of ornamental plants hawthorns, rowans, flowering quinces, cotoneasters and juneberries.

”Fireblight host plants, such as apple and pear trees, should not be imported from Estonia at all now,” says Jari Poutanen, Head of Section at the Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira.

Planting material brought into Finland must have a protected zone plant passport

Because Finland is free of fireblight, the EU has approved Finland as a protected zone. Host plants of the disease may only be imported into a protected zone on certain conditions.

If planting material is brought from Estonia, the fireblight host plants must have a protected zone plant passport (ZP plant passport) issued by the producer. The passport shows that the planting material was produced in a nursery monitored by the authority and free of fireblight. Fireblight host plants should not be purchased from markets or individual sellers, as they often lack the plant passport.

The ZP marking may be on e.g. the plant label. The plant passport must be kept safe, so that in cases of suspected fireblight, Evira can trace the producer of the plant.

Authority decides on eradication of the disease

Because fireblight is a plant disease classified as harmful, Evira decides on the measures of its eradication. The disease spreads easily via insects and rainwater. At first, fireblight causes wilting and blackening of shoots, but eventually results in the death of the whole plant. 

Read on:
Information and photos of fireblight:  Erwinia amylovora
Frequently asked questions: Fireblight

Additional information:
Head of Section Jari Poutanen, t. +358 (0)40 845 4869

 

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