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New pine pitch canker measures announced

New pine pitch canker measures announced

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) today announced new measures it would be applying immediately to reduce risks associated with pine pitch canker (Fusarium circinatum) establishing in New Zealand.

“All areas within the US are now considered by MAF as not being free of pine pitch canker,” MAF’s acting forest biosecurity director Ian Gear said.

“This means that all nursery stock of Pinus species or Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) will be prohibited entry into New Zealand. Imports of sawn timber or poles from these species will now also be prohibited unless they have been treated to 70o Celsius (core temperature) for four continuous hours or kiln-dried to less than 20 percent moisture content at temperatures exceeding 56o Celsius.”

These new measures follow a MAF review after pine pitch canker was intercepted in November 2003 on Douglas Fir cuttings being propagated in a secure quarantine facility near Christchurch.

“At that time MAF responded by suspending all permits to import Douglas Fir cuttings or similar material from the US and ordering the destruction of the infested consignment. MAF’s initial diagnosis was recently confirmed by Professor Tom Gordon, UCLA Davis, California.

“This event proves the value of New Zealand’s quarantine system as an effective means of ensuring that imported organisms are free of unwanted pests and diseases before they are released into our ecosystems,” Ian Gear said.

A copy of MAF’s full report is available on the MAF web site www.maf.govt.nz.

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