Current issues related to protecting plant health and trade of plants, fruit, vegetables or plant material including Xylella fastidiosa.
Xylella fastidiosa: EU controls
This section was updated on 24 November 2017.
Xylella fastidiosa, a bacterial disease, represents a serious threat to plants in the UK. We are working to stop the spread of this disease and plant health authorities in the UK and elsewhere are keeping a close watch for it
Xylella has not yet been found in the UK, but it has recently affected olive trees in Italy, a range of trees and plants in areas of Spain and France, and has been found in Germany. Plants in North and South America are being damaged by the disease.
Everyone in a horticultural business, or who moves or imports affected plants, must comply with strict conditions imposed under EU legislation. These affect ‘specified plants’ (which includes the confirmed hosts of Xylella fastidiosa in the EU and further afield). There are:
- controls on importing these plants into Europe from non-EU countries
- controls on moving these plants from those parts of the EU where it is has been detected
- new requirements for all ‘host plants’ being moved between businesses to be from premises that are officially inspected on an annual basis, with testing of symptomatic plants, in addition to being accompanied by a plant passport
- extra requirements, from 1 March 2018, for a sub-set of ‘host plants’ to be from officially inspected sites and systematically tested using a statistically based sampling system, irrespective of whether they show symptoms – these include Coffea, Lavandula dentata, Nerium oleander, Olea europaea, Polygala myrtifolia and Prunus dulcis
Find out more about the controls:
- Host plants susceptible to Xylella fastidiosa in the EU (list) (PDF)
- Areas in France (including Corsica), Italy, Spain and Germany demarcated because of the disease (PDF)
- Plant passports: application form, and consolidated list of plants susceptible to Xylella fastidiosa which require a plant passport
- Press release, 20 October 2017: Xylella fastidiosa: UK secures added EU protections
- EU Decision 2015/789 from May 2015 (measures to control Xylella fastidiosa) has been amended by Decision 2015/2417 (December 2015)
Additional declaration changes for capsicum, aubergines and citrus from 1 January 2018
This section was added on 11 January 2018.
All importers of fresh fruit and vegetables should be aware that EU Directive 2017/1279 has been published. This amends the EU Plant Health Directive 2000/29/EC and requires new additional declarations for:
- capsicum, citrus (other than citrus limon and citrus aurantiifolia), peaches and pomegranates originating in countries of the African continent, Cape Verde, Saint Helena, Madagascar, La Reunion, Mauritius and Israel (Annex 4 item 16.6)
- tomato and aubergine (Annex 4 item 25.7.2)
See the Directive amendment for further detail.
Tomatoes and pomegranates: phytosanitary certificates required from 1 January 2018
This section was updated on 23 January 2018.
All importers of fresh fruit and vegetables should be aware that EU Directive 2017/1279 has been published. This amends the EU Plant Health Directive 2000/29/EC and will require tomatoes originating from all third countries (outside the EU but including Canary Islands, Ceuta, Melilla and the French Overseas Departments) and pomegranates originating from countries of the African continent, Cape Verde, Saint Helena, Madagascar, La Reunion, Mauritius and Israel to be imported with a phytosanitary certificate.
As an interim measure, while the Procedure for Electronic Application for Certificates (PEACH) online system is amended to accommodate this change, phytosanitary certificates for tomatoes and pomegranates should be emailed to Phyto-Heathrow@apha.gsi.gov.uk. Notifications to the Horticultural Marketing Inspectorate (HMI) , through PEACH should continue as normal.
From 8 February 2018, importers should make entries for this material on PEACH and upload copies of the physanitary certificates that accompany the applications. This will be in line with the process for other controlled commodities.
This Directive has been introduced with a view to protecting plants, plant products and other objects, in light of increased international trade and following pest risk assessments published by the European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organisation. These risk assessments provided justification for adding tomatoes and pomegranates to the list of controlled material in Annex 5B (regulated material requiring a phytosanitary certificate) of Directive 2000/29/EC following the addition of 3 new harmful organisms to those listed in Annex 1 (prohibited pests):
- Keiferia lycopersicella (tomato pinworm), a leaf mining moth
- Thaumatotiba leucotreta (false codling month)
- Bactericera cockerelli (tomato/potato psyllid), a vector for Candidatus liberibacter solanacearum, the causal agent of ‘Zebra Chip’, a serious disease in potatoes
Red palm weevil
We are appealing for palm growers, importers and retailers to be on the lookout for the red palm weevil, a threat to palm trees, which was identified in the UK for the first time in October 2016. It was found inside a round-leaf fountain palm imported from Italy, which had been purchased in Essex. The infested plant was destroyed.
APHA inspectors have surveyed susceptible palm trees within 10km of the affected tree and found no further signs of it. Tracing work has been carried out to locate and inspect material which was sent to other retailers and no further finds have been made to date.
We are appealing to the trade to look out for signs of the red palm weevil over the coming months and to source material carefully to avoid importing unwanted pests such as this into the UK.
The red palm weevil does not pose any risk to people, pets or livestock but is known to attack and kill a large range of palm species popular in the UK. The pest is native to Asia but was accidently introduced to Spain in 1994 and since then it has spread widely in the Mediterranean region where it has devastated ornamental palms, particularly the Canary Island date palm. It is known to affect palm species including Butia, Chamaerops, Phoenix, Saribus (=Livistona) Trachycarpus and Washingtonia
Weevils do not survive the winter however the larvae can. Larvae are legless, about 50 mm long, with a creamy-white body and reddish-brown head. Adult weevils are not expected to emerge until June. They are about 35mm long, with a characteristic long curved extension to the front of the head called a rostrum.
Larvae complete their lifecycle inside the palm, forming galleries as they tunnel their way through the trunk and bases of palm fronds. Adult beetles are most likely to be seen in the UK from June-September when summer temperatures are highest.
Larvae, pupae, pupal cases, and adults, can be found in the dead or dying crown of the palm or infested fronds. In heavily infested palms fallen empty pupal cases and dead adults may be found around the base of the palm. Early infestations or low numbers of the weevil in plants are very difficult to detect. The older leaves of a palm begin to droop during the early stages of infestation but quickly collapse. Later stages or large infestations cause a decreased size and yellowing of the frond, particularly the new fronds as the larvae destroy the growing point of the palm. Eventually the frond canopy becomes very small and distorted relative to the trunk and the crown dies.
Suspect findings of the red palm weevil should be reported to APHA’s Plant Health and Seeds Inspectorate by telephone 01904 405138 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The government is committed to doing everything possible to prevent plant pests and diseases crossing our borders and, although we cannot eliminate all risks, we have stringent plans to deal with threats and take prompt action when they are detected. The government continues to work closely with the international community, industry, NGOs, landowners and the public to reduce the risks of pests and diseases entering the country, and to mitigate the impact of newly established ones.
Sweet chestnut blight (Cryphonectria parasitica)
Sweet chestnut blight in East London
The Chief Plant Health Officer has confirmed that sweet chestnut blight has been found in East London.
Action is being taken to identify and control the disease in line with the government’s plant disease contingency plans. The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) and Forestry Commission are carrying out extensive surveillance of sweet chestnut trees in the area, working closely with local stakeholders. Further action will be taken on the basis of surveillance information and the best available scientific evidence.
Anyone who has sweet chestnut trees in their garden or on their land, or who works with the trees, should check them for signs of the disease. Any suspected symptoms must be reported, preferably using the Forestry Commission’s Tree Alert disease reporting tool.
Chestnut blight does not pose any risk to people, pets or livestock, and is only known to seriously affect sweet chestnut (Castanea) species. It does not affect horse chestnut (Aesculus) species.
Good biosecurity is vital to reducing disease spread - anyone visiting or working in woodland should take care not to remove twigs, leaves and branches to avoid spreading the pest further. They should also clean their footwear, tools and machinery before moving locations.
Businesses or woodland owners needing further information may contact the Forestry Commission’s South East England Area Office by telephone 0300 067 4420 or by email email@example.com. News media enquirers should contact the Forestry Commission press office by email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Suspected infections in plants moving in trade should be reported to APHA’s Plant Health & Seeds Inspectorate by telephone 01904 405138 or by email email@example.com.
In 2013, the UK introduced special requirements that importers must notify the plant health services of pending imports of sweet chestnut plants before their arrival to enable inspection. The UK is also a Protected Zone for C. parasitica, meaning that movements of sweet chestnut plants into the UK must comply with additional requirements, and are accompanied by specific plant passports eligible for the zone and confirming that they are disease free.
Sweet chestnut blight in Devon
Following an outbreak of sweet chestnut blight in Devon, UK plant health authorities, the Forestry Commission and APHA, are imposing a prohibition on the movement of sweet chestnut material including plants, logs, branches, foliage and firewood out of, or within 6 zones. 5 of these zones are in Devon and one in Dorset.
All 6 zones will apply from Friday 12 May. Two of these are new zones in new areas. See the maps of these zones below:
The other 4 demarcated areas will replace larger zones imposed in February and March 2017. The UK plant health authorities have reduced the boundaries of these original zones based on the latest evidence. See the maps of the 4, new, smaller zones below:
See details of the original, larger demarcated areas that no longer apply from 12 May:
Sweet chestnut blight, caused by a fungus called Cryphonectria parasitica, does not pose any risk to people, pets or livestock, and is only known to seriously affect sweet chestnut (Castanea) species. Although the fungus can occasionally affect oak trees, usually when they are standing very close to heavily infected sweet chestnut trees, it does little damage to them. It does not affect horse chestnut (Aesculus) species.
The prohibition on movement is implemented by The Plant Health (Sweet Chestnut Blight) (England) Order 178/2017. The original prohibition came into force on 21 February 2017, and applied from Friday 24 February. This legislation is a precaution to prevent the spread of the disease further afield.
The prohibitions on movement will make it illegal to move sweet chestnut material including plants, logs, branches, foliage and firewood out of, or inside, zones within a 2 kilometre (1.24 mile) radius of sites in Devon and Dorset, where sweet chestnut blight has been found. These restrictions also apply to oak within 1 kilometre (0.62 mile) of the same sites.
The prohibition zones will remain in place until further notice but is subject to review following future monitoring in the zones. The Forestry Commission and APHA are continuing their investigation into the extent of the outbreak, which was discovered in December 2016, and this work may result in more zones being established. Further advice may follow as the situation develops.
Exceptions to this movement prohibition include oak or sweet chestnut material entering and exiting the zones without stopping. For example, the delivery of plants, logs or firewood which start and end their journeys outside the zones is permitted. Exceptions may also be granted in certain circumstances by the Forestry Commission, in the case of woodland sites, or by the APHA Plant Health and Seeds Inspectorate, for horticultural requests.
Local woodland and business owners and managers who need further information may contact the Forestry Commission’s South West England Area office by email firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 0300 067 4960.
The horticulture trade, garden centres and householders should contact the APHA’s Plant Health and Seeds Inspectorate by telephone on 01904 405138 or by email email@example.com.
Potato brown rot: watercourses in the Cambridge Fens
This section was updated on 23 February 2018.
Brown rot is a damaging disease of potatoes spread by infected potatoes and by contaminated water.
APHA carries out the annual surveillance programme in England, including watercourses in areas where potatoes are commonly grown.
When a finding is confirmed in water, the watercourse concerned must be officially designated and irrigation restrictions imposed for potato and tomato crops. Irrigation of other crops is not affected.
As a result of the 2016 surveillance programme, 2 watercourses in the Middle Level of the Cambridgeshire Fens have been confirmed as contaminated.
APHA and Defra have been working with national and stakeholder organisations, as well as with individual growers in the area, to ensure that affected potato growers are informed of the consequences and aware of their options for irrigating in future. This included hosting a stakeholder event held in March, Cambridgeshire, which around 50 growers and industry representatives attended.
Other growers in the Middle Level have also been informed of developments and following surveillance in 2017 a limited number of additional watercourses have been confirmed contaminated requiring an extension to existing statutory notices.
Under the provisions of the Plant Health (England) Order 2015, an APHA Notice will demarcate the areas under which restrictions will apply (20km from contaminated watercourses), while a Ministerial Notice will describe the restrictions themselves. These provisions supplement the general provisions of the Order, which prohibit the movement of harmful organisms, such as the pathogen causing potato brown rot.
The Notices will take effect on 21 February 2018.
Restrictions on the import of curry leaves
Fresh curry leaves can only be imported from countries able to fulfil the requirements of the EU import regulations. This includes the need to originate from countries recognised as free of citrus greening disease. Currently there are no countries that have satisfied this requirement and so fresh curry leaves are not permitted to be imported into the EU. If curry leaves are imported they must be either frozen or dried at time of import.
Restrictions on trade to the Russian Federation
In August 2014 the Russian Federation introduced a ban on the import of some agricultural commodities from the whole of the EU including the UK. This includes fruit and vegetables.
The Russian Federation had extended the ban to August 2016, but the ban is now on-going.
If you are exporting products to the Russian Federation from the UK, which were originally from outside the EU, you are advised to request a phytosanitary certificate from the original country’s plant health authority before exporting the consignment to the EU - even if your product does not need a certificate to enter the EU.
The certificate can then accompany your consignment, with any other documents, to prove the origin of the products.