Producing and distributing food – guidance

Plant Health Propagation Scheme

How commercial plant growers can grow PHPS-certified stock, and find out the benefits of using it in commercial plantations.

The Plant Health Propagation Scheme (PHPS) encourages the production and use of healthy planting stock. It’s a voluntary scheme run by the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) certifying plants that meet all the scheme conditions.

You can apply to join the PHPS to grow provenly healthy stock if you’re a commercial grower (‘propagator’) of:

  • soft fruit - strawberries, berry fruit, currants
  • top fruit - apples, pears, cherries, plums
  • hops
  • rootstocks and ornamental varieties associated with top fruit
  • micropropagated material (of any crop)

Apply for PHPS certification

Any grower in England and Wales can apply to have their crops PHPS-certified. Your crops must be of known lineage unless you’re entering it at the lowest grade.

All material must be grown under specific conditions relating to their site and isolation from other crops as explained in these guides:

Use the Nuclear Stock Association’s application forms to enter stocks into PHPS.

If you’re entering planting material only for the CAC grade you must register with APHA to issue plant passports.


Crops are inspected at least once a year by APHA Plant Health and Seeds Inspector to check they meet the standards set out in the guides.

Assessments are normally made on the basis of visual examinations, but samples may be taken for laboratory analysis to get a definitive diagnosis.

If a stock fails an inspection, APHA may tell the the propagator they can take remedial action (eg by removing plants that don’t meet the scheme standards) and request an additional inspection.


If the crop meets all the conditions set out in the guides, they’ll get PHPS certification. Certification details are published in the PHPS Annual Register.

Grading system

You enter your crop to meet one of these grades:

  • Foundation
  • Super Elite
  • Elite
  • A

The Approved-Health (A-H) grade is available for crops which are inspected for health and vigour only. Crops which can’t meet the entry requirements for any PHPS grades are designated CAC Grade which means that they meet basic plant passport standards.


APHA will set up a contract if you grow PHPS-certified stock and will charge you for any certification visits. Any samples submitted to support inspections will be handled by the FERA (Food and Environment Research Agency) Plant Clinic who will invoice you.

New EU fruit certification scheme

There will be a new EU fruit certification scheme from 1 January 2017. PHPS certificates issued in 2016 will have both the current PHPS grade displayed and the equivalent grade from the new EU scheme.

Read the following for draft guidance on: