Plant Health Propagation Scheme
This section is for commercial growers of soft fruit, top fruit, hops, bulbs, corms and cobnuts. It explains how the voluntary Plant Health Propagation Scheme (PHPS) works and outlines its benefits to growers.
You can find out how to obtain PHPS-certified stocks so you can be confident that your planting stock is healthy and vigorous and how to enter eligible plant material, the husbandry and hygiene standards you will have to meet and the PHPS grading system. How to propagate healthy fruit plants, hops, bulbs and corms, and cobnuts is also explained.
Plant Health Propagation Scheme
PHPS is run by the Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera) and certifies planting stock as being healthy and vigorous. PHPS-certified plants are grown under conditions which promote plant health and freedom from pests and diseases. Some grades of PHPS certificate may also guarantee that the plant is true to its variety.
The PHPS covers strawberries, berry fruit, currants, apples, pears, cherries, plums and hops. Other plants eligible for PHPS include rootstocks and ornamental top fruit varieties and some top and soft fruit plants certified in other countries.
Growers in the PHPS have to meet strict conditions established by Fera. Minimum husbandry and hygiene standards are enforced by Fera’s Plant Health and Seeds Inspectors (PHSIs). In some cases, soil sampling for virus vectors must be carried out before planting.
Plants entered into PHPS must be of known lineage, with the exception of those entered at the lowest grade - Approved Health - which are only inspected for health and vigour. If plants meet all the PHPS conditions they are entered to produce a specific grade and are certified for this grade. The main grades are Foundation, Super Elite, Elite and A.
Applying to enter crops into the PHPS
If you wish to enter your plant material into the scheme you need to complete the relevant application forms. For micro-propagated material you also need to apply for inspection by a PHSI to show that you meet the scheme’s minimum husbandry and hygiene conditions. You will pay a standard hourly fee for the time the PHSI spends on your premises while assessing your suitability for the PHPS.
You can contact your local PHSI for an application form for the plant material you wish to enter into the PHPS.
Obtaining certified stocks
If you want to buy PHPS-certified stock you can contact your local PHSI office for details of growers of certified crops, or consult the PHPS registers of participating growers.
The certificates will show the material’s grade, variety, certificate number and quantity, as well as the period of validity of the certificate.
Plant Health Propagation Scheme - register of growers
Based on information from the PHPS application forms, Fera produces annual registers of growers and stocks for specific types of crop. These registers are produced to provide PHPS participants and their customers with full details of stocks entered into the scheme.
If you are applying to enter the PHPS but don’t want your information included in the register you need to indicate this on the application form.
If you are looking for sources of PHPS-certified material your local PHSI office can provide information about registered growers for all plants covered by the PHPS.
Plant Health Propagation Scheme forms
There are leaflets available that detail the standards and conditions you must meet when applying to enter plants into the PHPS.
Alternatively, you can ask your local PHSI for an application form for the material you want to enter into the scheme. For certain PHPS grades you may also need to prepare a field plan or map to go with your application form.
There are downloadable PHPS forms and leaflets available for minimum husbandry standards.
You can download special conditions for certification of micropropagated material information (PHPS 3) from the Fera website (PDF, 45K). This leaflet should be read prior to completing application form PHPS 4 to apply for micropropagation inspection.
The PHPS covers these species of soft fruit:
- rubus plants - raspberries, blackberries and hybrid berries
- ribes - black currants, red currants, white currants and gooseberries
PHPS soft fruit leaflets and forms
Before applying to enter soft fruit into the PHPS read the appropriate guidance leaflets. They cover special requirements for nuclear stock, conditions for different grades of material and the key to grades for certifying specific soft fruit material.
Leaflets are available that give guidance on the special requirements necessary for plants to qualify as nuclear stock. They also specify the growing conditions for nuclear stock plants, pest and disease testing processes for mother plants and required documentation.
Fera leaflets also advise on the different grades for certification and the special conditions your material needs to meet. Most grades are certified for trueness to variety, health and vigour. Approved-health grade plants are certified only for health and vigour.
These leaflets explain the form you need to use to apply for certification and what material is eligible for entry to the different grades. They also specify requirements for:
- absence of soil-borne diseases in land used to grow the crops
- soil sampling for freedom from certain living virus vector nematodes
- other husbandry conditions such as rotations and isolation of plants and freedom from specified diseases
Once you have read the relevant soft fruit guidance leaflet complete the appropriate application form for the type of soft fruit material you want to enter into the scheme. For certain PHPS grades you may need to prepare a field plan or map to go with your application form.
There are also leaflets available which translate Netherlands-certified material grades into equivalent PHPS grades. They help to identify which Netherlands-certified material is eligible for entry into PHPS grades.
The PHPS covers these types of top fruit:
- plums and cherries
PHPS top fruit leaflets and forms
Before applying to enter top fruit to the PHPS see the appropriate guidance leaflets. These cover special requirements for nuclear stock, conditions for different grades of material and the key to grades for certifying specific top fruit material.
You can enter any new and established varieties or trial material to qualify as PHPS-certified, virus-free top fruit nuclear stock. You should provide documents showing that the plants have been grown in insect-proof conditions. The plants will also be tested for pests and diseases.
You can also apply for PHPS certification of different grades of top fruit mother trees, rootstock and complete trees. Trees budded with scion wood from an approved source are also eligible. Husbandry requirements specify:
- spacing between stocks
- isolation distances from trees not entered for certification
- site approval
- soil sampling to establish freedom from virus
There are also limited tolerances for rouging, pests and diseases. Your plants will be inspected at least once and you will need to supply documentation.
Once you have read the relevant top fruit guidance leaflet complete the appropriate application form for the type of top fruit material you want to enter into the scheme. For certain PHPS grades you will usually also need to prepare a field plan or map to go with your application form.
You can download Fera’s information about foreign-certified material of top fruit budwood and rootstocks eligible for PHPS certification from the Agricultural Document Library (ADLib) website (PDF, 27K).
There are leaflets available on standards and conditions you need to meet when applying to enter hops into the PHPS.
PHPS hops leaflets and forms
Before applying to enter hops into the PHPS read the appropriate guidance leaflets which cover the requirements for qualification as nuclear stock, conditions for PHPS-certified grades and the key to grades for certifying specific hops material.
You can enter any new and established varieties or trial material to qualify as PHPS-certified, virus-free hops nuclear stock. You should provide documents showing that the plants have been grown in an insect-proof enclosure which only contains disease-free hop nuclear stock plants, or other tested hop material.
PHPS certifies different grades of hops. Different growing conditions apply depending on the grade.
Once you have read the relevant hops guidance leaflet complete the appropriate hops application form to enter hops stocks into the PHPS. For certain PHPS grades you will usually also need to prepare a field plan or map to go with your application form.
Currently there are no cobnuts in the PHPS.
Contact your local PHSI office for information about growing, buying or selling healthy cobnut trees. Alternatively, you could contact the Kentish Cobnuts Association (KCA) for more information. You can call the KCA enquiry line on 01732 882 734. The University of Reading maintains the National Fruit Collection (NFC), which includes cobnut cultivars. You can call the NFC helpline on 01795 533 225.
Healthy cobnut trees are free from virus and bacterial wilt. They’re also free from other pests and diseases such as powdery mildew, hazel aphid, winter moth caterpillars and nut gall mites.
Stocks should be grown at appropriate minimum isolation distances. You can find out about these and other cobnut husbandry requirements from your local PHSI office.
To find out about appropriate minimum husbandry standards for propagating healthy cobnut plants, you can download special conditions for complete cobnut trees, mother trees and hedges (PHPS 35) from the National Archives website (PDF, 58K).
You can also contact your local PHSI to check the current requirements. Download PHSI regional offices contact details from the Fera website (PDF, 25K).
Bulbs and corms
Currently there are no bulbs and corms in the PHPS.
You can contact your local PHSI office for information about growing, buying or selling healthy bulbs and corms.
Although the PHPS does not currently include bulbs and corms, commercial growers can still purchase virus-tested narcissus bulbs of about 40 cultivars of virus-tested mother stock and elite PHPS grades from the Warwick Horticultural Research Institute (Warwick HRI). You can call the Warwick HRI enquiry line on 024 7657 4455.
01795 533 225
Fera Plant Health and Seed Inspectors Division
01904 465 625
01904 462 000
KCA enquiry line
01732 882 734
Defra Duty Room helpline (out of hours)
020 7270 8960