State officials in Washington are considering adding certain potted plants to the list of commodities affected by the apple maggot quarantine.
The Yakima-based Washington State Tree Fruit Association has asked the state Department of Agriculture, which quarantines certain commodities to prevent the spread of the apple maggot pest to commercial orchards, to add the soil in potted host plants to the regulated list.
Citing the Agriculture Department findings, the association suspects that apple maggots may pupate in soils of potted nursery trees, which could then spread the pest to areas it has not already infested, which includes most of the state’s commercial orchards in Central and Eastern Washington.
The organization has posted its letter to the state on its website at wstfa.org/wstfa-assets/uploads/Apple-Maggot-Letter.pdf
The state already regulates the travel of homegrown and foraged fruit, as well as yard debris and food scraps, to prevent the spread of apple maggot, a voracious pest that would necessitate expensive spray control programs and disqualify Washington fruit from many export markets.
The agency has not decided whether to open a formal rule-changing process, said spokesman Hector Castro.