The plant health status remained stable in 2008


<p>The plant health status in Finland remained stable last year, though some harmful organisms were detected during the controls. No harmful organisms or any other foreign species were found in coniferous timber imported from Russia. The risk of the pine wood nematode from imported wood packaging material spreading to the forests was still high. In green house cultivations more harmful organisms than normal were found last year.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p>

Findings of pine wood nematodes in wood packaging material

Pine wood nematodes were found in six batches of packaging material imported from China in 2008. The pine wood nematode is a microscopically small nematode that lives in conifers, and under suitable conditions it will cause pines to wilt and eventually kill them. The pine wood nematode spreads with international trade, especially through the use of wood packaging material.

Significant quantities of wood packaging material are imported annually from countries where the pine wood nematode occurs, for example the United States and China, and only a fraction of it can be inspected. The international treatment and marking requirements that were brought into use in 2005 should hinder the pine wood nematode from spreading via wood packaging material. The findings of the last years still indicate that the treatment requirements are not always adhered to, or that the treatments are not efficient enough.

The area infested by pine wood nematode in Portugal has increased despite control measures. Packaging material contaminated by the pine wood nematode originating from Portugal has been found in EU countries, and was also found in one batch of packaging material in Finland last year.

Tobacco Whitefly (Bemisia tabaci) a plague in greenhouse cultivations

Tobacco whitefly was detected in 109 greenhouse cultivations in 2008, which is double the amount compared to previous years. Most of the findings were discovered in poinsettia production, where tobacco whitefly was found in two thirds of the greenhouse enterprises producing poinsettias.

The tobacco whitefly came to Finland with plant material both from within the EU and from countries outside the EU. Unusually, tobacco whitefly was found in batches of poinsettia plant material imported from outside the EU already at the moment of import, which indicated that the plant material was more contaminated with tobacco whitefly in the countries of production than had been in previous years.

The tobacco whitefly is a protected zone pest in Finland, and it is not permitted to occur on plant material imported to the country. The aim is to stop the tobacco whitefly from spreading to Finland, as it is a harmful organism with many host plants and is difficult to control. It can also spread viruses of green house cucumbers and tomatoes. The tobacco whitefly is found in such large numbers on plant material imported to Finland that it may prove impossible to stop its spread to Finland in the future.

Chalara fraxinea and Dothistroma septosporum have spread to the forests

In research carried out by the Finnish Forest Research Institute, the permanent establishment in Finland of two new harmful organisms, Chalara fraxinea and Dothistroma septosporum was confirmed. Chalara fraxinea was found on the south coast and Dothistroma septosporum in Southern and Central Finland. The organisms are most likely to have spread to Finland by natural means. It was no longer possible to take control measures for forest pests this widely spread. The importance of the organisms Chalara fraxinea and Dothistroma septosporum will become evident in the years to come.

For additional information, please contact:
Head of Section Raija Valtonen, tel. 040 560 2510
Senior Officer Paula Lilja, tel. 040 542 1965


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