Sharka / Plum Pox Virus

Plum pox virus (PPV) was discovered for the first time in North America in 1999 in a peach orchard in Adams County, Pennsylvania.
Sharka / Plum Pox Virus - Videos


In Pennsylvania, peach, plum, nectarine, and apricot stone fruit and native and ornamental Prunus are susceptible to PPV, Strain D. Pennsylvania was declared free of the virus in October 2009 after three years of negative testing. Formal orchard surveys for the virus are no longer occurring, though standard testing of nursery material continues. Additional orchard monitoring may be proposed in future years, as part of ongoing early detection strategies for pests of concern. Lifting of the quarantine in Pennsylvania opened many acres for replanting Prunus. However, growers need to remain vigilant for any early indications the virus has returned. New plantings offer the opportunity for a "fresh start" and growers must plan carefully to get the most from their investment.

This video was produced by Penn State Extension in 2000 and recounts the partnership that developed between Penn State, USDA, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture and other scientists from around the world to battle the emergence of Plum Pox in Pennsylvania.


Penn State

Kari Peter 717-677-6116, ext. 2

Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture

Ruth Welliver 717-772-5222


Apple and pear diseases Peach, cherry, other stone fruit diseases Tree fruit disease management

More by Kari A. Peter, Ph.D. 

View Transcript

(serene music)

- [Voiceover] Sharka is the Slavic word for the diseased commonly referred to as plum pox.

Plant viruses are named according to the plant host in which they're originally identified.

Hence the name plum pox virus, or PPV.

PPV infects not only plums, but also other economically important cultivated stone fruit species including peach, nectarine, apricot, and almond.

Sharka is one of the most devastating diseases affecting stone fruits in Europe.

It's been estimated that over 100 million European trees are infected.

Plum pox was first reported in 1915 in Bulgarian plums.

It spread rather slowly Northward through Eastern Europe at first, reaching Yugoslavia in 1935, and Hungary about 1941.

It spread more rapidly after about 1950, reaching Germany in 1956, Poland and Russia in 1961, and France in 1970.

In 1984, Spain became the most recent Western European country to be invaded by plum pox.

The virus continues to spread Eastward in Eurasia and Southward along the Mediterranean coast of Africa.

In 1992, plum pox symptoms were first detected in the Western Hemisphere in Chile, and in the Fall of 1999, plum pox was found in North America in a small number of orchards in Adams County, Pennsylvania.

- In '98 the Field Rice provides Fruit Company took some of those peaches to Penn State fruit lab at Mingleville and to the department of agriculture in Harrisburg, and no one really seemed to know what it was.

Everybody thought it looked like a virus but it was nothing that anyone was familiar with.

And then in '99, we did the same thing and we had a repeat.

I went down to New Jersey to a fruit variety showcase, and just as I was leaving, my brother handed me a bag of them and said why don't you take them down there and show them around.

And that's when Jerry Frecon saw them and was courageous enough to say maybe this could be plum pox.

And that's actually what got everyone looking for it.

- Jim came to my fruit variety showcase, I had at our fruit research and brought a bag of peaches, that was on September 9th of this past year, and he showed me these peaches and I couldn't believe that they were that severe.

And I just what I thought was aphids, I was confident wasn't aphids, and we pretty much agreed that it must be some kind of a virus.

- Plum pox has been listed as a federal quarantine pest for a long time.

So it starts out a federal quarantine pest, what do you do when you find it?

You quarantine.

It was not a difficult decision to make.

- [Voiceover] PPV symptoms in stone fruits may vary considerably with the cultivar, age and nutrient status of the plant, and the temperature.

The severity of the disease and resulting symptoms may also vary with different strains of PPV.

Diagnostic symptoms on leaves may consist of vein yellowing, a mild light green discoloration bordering the leaf veins, or the formation of yellow or light green rings.

These symptoms may be only barely visible to the eye, and by themselves do not conclusively point to plum pox.

Similar symptoms may be caused by non-viral agents such as insect feeding or nutrient imbalances.

Flower symptoms can occur on varieties with showy peach blossoms but do not always occur.

Flower symptoms are common in France, but evidently not in Spain.

Peach and apricot fruit may develop lightly pigmented yellow rings or line patterns resulting from several rings running together on the surface of the fruit.

Fruit may become deformed or irregular in shape and develop necrotic or brown dead areas.

Apricot fruit may show no external evidence of the disease, but may have white ring or line patterns on the seed.

Plums generally are more severally affected and show more severe symptoms than other stone fruits.

Therefore plums are a good indicator host and may more easily be monitored by growers for infection symptoms in orchards.

For some plum cultivars, infected fruit drops prematurely from the tree.

Infected plum fruits often are severally deformed and develop darker rings or spots on the skin and a reddish discoloration of the flesh.

Unfortunately, many trees fail to show symptoms for the first three years following the initial infection of the tree.

In France, for example, the virus can be detected using laboratory tests the year after infection occurs.

However, leaf or fruit symptoms do not generally appear until the third year.

Not every leaf or fruit on an infected tree will show symptoms.

The virus often can be detected at the botom of a branch but not the tip.

However, once the branch shows symptoms, it will continue to display them in subsequent years.

While at times it seems there are far more questions than answers, everyone agrees that plum pox is an extremely serious problem.

- The plum pox will put Pennsylvania completely out of the peach business.

The tree does not die.

When we had stem pitting problems and other viruses, it killed the trees.

This the trees will stand here, they will be healthy and they will not produce.

And so whether we want to come forward or not, we will be going out of the peach business in the future if the plum pox is not contained.

- Eventually, if it's left there and you don't detect it, it hides in blocks or whatever and it spreads, your production will go to zero and you'll have no peaches or nectarines from it.

It's something we don't want here.

The more I learn about it, the scarier it gets.

The Europeans have it over there and they were not able to eradicate it in a lot of places and they just have to live with it.

- We grow and sell fruit tree nursery stock primarily to the fruit tree industry.

We are propagating now about a half-million trees a year.

And like I said before, most of them go to the commercial fruit tree industry all up and down the East coast, and even all over the United States, some into Canada.

Currently we have about 35,000 peach trees in the field that we will not be digging, that should have been for sale this Spring of 2000.

We also have about 120,000 budded root stocks of peach and nectarine in the field.

And about 15,000 plums and apricots that are also affected, that material also will not move in the Spring of 2001.

So we're really affected this year and next year by this plum pox virus.

The reason that we can't move the material is because the budwood was taken from the quarantined area.

- It's the impact, it's a domino effect.

Domino effect meaning you got the growers if they lose that acreage and can't put any peaches back in there, even if it is two years from now, you're still talking two years' production or whatever years production.

So it's a continuous, one thing feeds on the other.

I mean the chemical companies, the box companies, the marketers go in the rice fruit company, go into the processors.

It's right on down the line and that's loss income to the grower, which goes back into the communities.

- If plum pox is not eradicated, what will happen is we'll have to live with the disease.

And what that means, there will be a decrease in productivity and profitability in peaches.

So it will be harder to make money on peaches in the future than it already is.

If we eradicate it though, than we don't have to live with that loss every year.

- We've got to cover both the plum pox virus and also the current-- - [Voiceover] And while local growers and state regulators are working intensely on this problem, growers from all over the country are looking to Pennsylvania for answers.

- In New Jersey, many of our trees are grown in Pennsylvania, so that's why we're so concerned about it in New Jersey.

And of course a lot of the growers, particularly proneness, particularly peach varieties, because the Pennsylvania nurseries grow the varieties that we need to grow in New Jersey and in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, the Mid-Atlantic area.

- And so an issue like plum pox virus, while it's only in Adams County, Pennsylvania at the present time, has already been shown that it affects, it has a National effect and that nurseries in Oregon and Washington and Michigan are currently unable to ship some trees that they had already sold to Canadian growers into Canada because of plum pox being discovered here in the United States.

And so it shows that this is a problem that becomes far more than a local Adams County' problem in a very short period of time.

- We're sending out electronic mail messages to lists of people in other states that are interested in plum pox, so besides informing just the growers and people involved in Pennsylvania in this, we're also keeping the rest of the country informed because they're all very involved in the outcome here.

If this isn't contained in Pennsylvania, it will spread to the other states, and the other states will also have to live with plum pox virus and accept a reduced level of profitability on peaches.

So it really is a National problem, even though it's only occurring in Pennsylvania right now.

- [Voiceover] Our state has about 5,400 acres in peaches and approximately 1,000 acres between one-fifth and one-sixth of the state's crop is located in these two affected townships.

Adams County and the bordering region of New Jersey has the largest volume of peach production in the Northeastern United States.

By contrast, California produces stone fruits on an enormous scale, with about 400,000 acres devoted to stone fruit crops.

Peach growers throughout the country, in Georgia, South Carolina, and especially in California, are extremely interested in seeing plum pox contained and eradicated in Pennsylvania.

In a nation that produces more than 1.5 billion pounds of peaches per year, the total stone fruit crop is valued at approximately 1.8 billion dollars.

It's no longer just a Pennsylvania problem.

- This is something we didn't ask for and we certainly don't want it.

Nobody saw it coming and we're just glad that PDA jumped on it when they did.

The rest of the industry and the rest of the country is very supportive of what's going on here.

They're sympathetic to the growers obviously because all the other growers know what would it would mean to them if they had orchards coming out.

And they obviously want it stopped.

So it has drawn a lot of attention from the industry to this little area here.

- I think we have a responsibility.

If it's isolated here like we think it is so far, then we have a responsibility to get it out of here and to preserve the rest of the peach industry throughout the United States.

And the growers feel that way right now.

- [Voiceover] Because of the localized nature of this infection, experts are hopeful that this pocket of plum pox virus can be eradicated before it spreads to the rest of the continent.

- [Man] The strategy is to control plum pox.

- [Voiceover] Numerous agencies, including the United States Department Of Agriculture, USDA, Pennsylvania Department Of Agriculture, PDA, and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, APHIS, along with Penn State cooperative extension, have been grappling with the issue of plum pox.

Numerous meetings have taken place among international experts, policy makers, growers, researchers, and industry representatives to develop plans to deal with this new threat.

- Well I think the most rewarding outcome so far is that I've seen the U.S. Department Of Agriculture work with the Pennsylvania Department Of Agriculture, they've cooperated with extension and all those groups are working with growers, so it's really a team effort.

And each one of those groups or agencies really has a role to play and they're all different.

And I've seen them all cooperate towards the common goal of eradicating plum pox virus.

- It appears to me that there is the enthusiasm and the willpower both within the Pennsylvania State Department Of Agriculture and within APHIS to follow this through.

And one of the things, to be honest with you, that the National Peach Council can do is help to make sure that there's plenty of political support in Washington that this is indeed a National issue and that we want to make sure that growers and members of congress from throughout the peach-producing states in the United States understand the severity of this thing, and that it's important that if there's some issues about funding and things like this that we do our very best to try and eradicate this disease while it's still perhaps in a small area of Adams County rather than being in several states and starting to spread throughout the United States.

- The key is the growers.

You have to have grower commitment to clean it up.

You have to have growers out there looking at their orchards and communicating what they see.

That's the only way we're gonna get the job done.

- [Voiceover] Serological tests performed in the lab can detect PPV even before visual symptoms develop.

Serological surveys directed by Ruth Welliver at the Pennsylvania Department Of Agriculture in October of 1999 detected 18 infected orchards but only 2 of these 18 blocks had trees showing obvious symptoms.

A lack of symptoms therefore is not a good indicator that the orchard is healthy.

Symptoms alone cannot be relied upon to determine the incidents or range of the disease.

When symptoms do occur, however, they frequently indicate the presence of plum pox.

Therefore in the year 2000, the Pennsylvania Department Of Agriculture plans to sample and test for plum pox virus in all Pennsylvania stone fruit orchards with the exception of cherry orchards.

- We're hoping to be largely sampling leaves.

You can also sample fruit or flowers, but mostly leaves.

We take a set number of leaves off of a tree, usually more than just one because the virus is not evenly distributed through the tree.

So you try and get several leaves per tree, like maybe three at least from the major scaffolds.

And those get sent back to the lab, where we grind the samples and then go through a series of tests, a series of procedures in a laboratory test called ELISA, it's a serological test.

Same kind of test that's used in pregnancy tests and hospital tests for human pathogens.

But in this particular case, we're looking just for plum pox.

It takes about three days, the full test.

We're expecting we'll be able to do several thousand samples a day in the busy season.

- We have five blocks now that have tested positive.

Most of them are older trees, three of them are nectarine and two of them are peach.

Red gold nectarine and cling peaches.

Never did see any symptoms on them.

But it's probably, depending on where PDA draws the lines on them, anywhere from 50 to 60 acres of peaches and nectarines.

- If you see anything that looks like those symptoms, immediately bring that to the attention of your local county agent or your regional fruit agent like myself who serve a large area.

And then we'll go from there as far as identifying it.

I mean if you don't do that, I mean this is just a serious, serious problem and if you don't notify somebody and we spread it more, and more, and more, I mean you want to try and nip this in the bud right away.

I mean if you see it in your orchard, if a grower sees it in his orchard, don't just push it out and think that it's going away because chances are it's probably on some other trees that you haven't even seen the symptoms on yet.

- [Voiceover] Growers should know that the plum pox virus will be economically important, even on cultivars that become infected but fail to produce severe obvious symptoms.

Plum pox virus infection on fruit trees not only causes diagnostic symptoms on leaves and fruits, but it also reduces total quantities of even symptom-less fruits.

In addition, it reduces fruit quality, resulting in reductions of grade, and eventually debilitates the tree, reducing its useful life.

The two most common European variants of the virus are PPV-D and PPV-M.

These two strains differ in symptom severity among the host species and in patterns of spread by Aphids.

At present we don't know of any M strain being located in the United States.

PPV-D was the strain found in Pennsylvania.

This may be fortunate because the D strain is not known to be readily seed transmitted.

And in Europe, the D strain seems to be more slowly spread by aphids than the M strain, thus giving more hope for successful eradication if infected trees are quickly detected and destroyed.

Cherries are affected by PPV-M but not by the D strain and this is a great relief to cherry orchardists in the United States.

In natural settings such as orchards, PPV is spread over short distances only by aphids.

These small insects feed through modified piercing sucking mouth parts on the internal vascular tissues of the plants.

The mechanism by which aphids transmit PPV is called non-persistent transmission.

This refers to the fact that once the aphid probes into an infected plant and acquires the virus, the virus remains infectious and can be transmitted by the aphid only for a short time.

Aphids make two kinds of probes on leaf surfaces, test probes and feeding probes.

Rapid transmission of PPV occurs specifically during aphid test probes and not during longer-lasting feeding probes.

The virus can occur in high concentration in leaf cells, and when the aphid test probes into an infected cell, some of the virus is sucked into the stylet where it can stick to the lining of the food canal in the center of the stylet and remain infectious there for several minutes or hours.

If the aphid then flies to a healthy plant and initiates a test probe into a healthy epidermal cell, the virus carried on the food canal can detach and be squirted back into the healthy plant cell, when the aphid expels the contents of the food canal before sucking up fresh cell contents for taste testing.

- If it is a suitable host, then the aphid will pull the stylet out, walk around on the plant's surface and then force that stylet back into the plant between two epidermal cells and push the stylet down into the phloem, where it can feed.

If the aphid is not satisfied with that plant as a host, it may pull the stylet out and then fly to another plant and proceed to do another test probe on the next plant.

So in this way the aphids flit about from leaf to leaf or plant to plant searching for suitable hosts.

And it's during this searching phase that the aphids can transmit viruses from plant to plant.

- [Voiceover] Because plum pox virus has not previously occurred in the United States, no studies have been conducted to determine which aphid species in Pennsylvania orchards are capable of transmitting the virus However, several aphid vector species occur in the fruit-growing region of Southeastern Pennsylvania, where plum pox virus has been identified.

- One first is the colonizing species, and we have two of them here in Pennsylvania.

One is the green peach aphid, and the other one is the black peach aphid.

The most important one in our case is the green peach aphid.

By a colonizer, I mean an aphid species that actually lives on a peach or a nectarine or an apricot tree and at least spends a good part of its life cycle, it reproduces, it may move to other hosts after a period of two or three generations, but it actually is colonizing the tree and feeding on the tree.

The second group of species that we have to be concerned about with plum pox virus are the ones that are called migratory species.

And those are just passing through a peach, or a nectarine, or an apricot, or a plum orchard and they're just landing on the tree, probing it and feeding for a short period of time and then they're moving on.

So they're not really colonizing the tree from that standpoint, and they're the ones that we think are very efficient vectors of plum pox virus, and they're the ones that are gonna be very much more difficult to control.

- [Voiceover] At present, fruit trees cannot be completely protected from aphid inoculation with plum pox virus.

Insecticide applications can aid in reducing total aphid population on fruit trees, however, it may only take one or a few aphids to inoculate a tree, and total or near total aphid control is impossible to achieve.

- Most pesticides, depending on their mode of action and speed of activity, take anywhere from 1 to 2 hours, up to 24 to 48 hours to actually kill the insect.

In the case of plum pox virus and the type of virus it is, it's transmitted through the stylets of the aphid and they can pick up the virus in a matter of minutes, they can fly to an adjacent tree in a matter of minutes, in an hour.

And the next tree they feed on, in a matter of minutes, they can actually transmit that virus to the tree.

And all this can happen in a very short period of time and it makes it very difficult to actually kill an insect with the insecticide we have available to us today.

- [Voiceover] Long-distance spread by flying aphids is unlikely even in continuous land areas because aphids lose non-persistently transmitted viruses when they probe any non-prunus species.

Also, PPV probably becomes non-infectious in the aphid within approximately an hour after acquisition.

Long-distance spread of PPV and the introduction of the virus to new regions where it previously had not been known to exist occurs primarily by human movement of infected plants or plant parts - Aphids are responsible for local dispersal.

But whenever the virus hops long distances invariably it's due to man.

And since the virus can lay latent in budwood for three years without showing any symptoms, that if you're not knowledgeable and if you don't have a virus-free certification program to guarantee that your budwood is free of virus, it could conceivably get into propagation material and be shipped great distances.

- [Voiceover] Quarantine can be effective in preventing long-distance spread of PPV within a region, state, or country.

If the disease occurs only in a small area, it may be contained by local quarantines, preventing the movement of infected materials out of that area.

- The area where they first found it, that's what that circle represents.

This circle represents the second mile out.

- [Voiceover] The Pennsylvania Department Of Agriculture instituted such a quarantine on October 21st, 1999, for Huntington and Latimore townships in Adams County, Pennsylvania.

If it was implemented before the movement of infected materials occurred, this quarantine will be effective in preventing the spread of PPV.

- The goal of quarantine is to make sure that the virus doesn't spread by human hands from where it is now.

That's why we don't care about fruit cause moving fruit isn't gonna move virus in a way that it's going to spread.

But moving budwood, moving trees would.

So that's what the quarantine's doing.

- The trees that we have in the field right now are not themselves infected.

They were tested in the Fall, they did not find any positive infections, however, the area that the budwood was taken from to make those trees, was taken from the quarantined area in the county, therefore the USDA and PDA deemed it very risky to move those trees out of the area.

Therefore we decided to leave that plant material in the field, it will be destroyed as soon as we're able and have the go ahead to do so.

- [Voiceover] One strategy to prevent the introduction of viruses to a new area is for commercial growers and nursery propagators to purchase only certified virus-free planting stock.

In the future, it will be important for growers to verify that certified stone fruit nursery stock from any source has also been tested and verified to be free of plum pox virus.

- If a grower wanted a particular peach or nectarine, or plum or apricot grown, we would go to his farm, take budwood, grow the variety for him.

That's something we're not gonna be able to do as easily anymore.

Before that's done, every tree is gonna have to be tested once or maybe twice to ensure that the parent tree doesn't have plum pox.

And our whole certification program is gonna have to be revamped.

- I think we've gotten a little lax on promoting the importance of buying virus-certified trees.

I was in the nursery business for 10 years.

That was a big part of our research effort.

And it just seems to me as an extension worker now, we've gotten a little bit away from emphasizing the importance of growers planting virus-free nursery stock.

We went from emphasizing that, to emphasizing particular varieties, and get these varieties at all costs cause they're the best varieties.

Or buy cheap trees, you know, some growers complained about the price of a tree getting too high.

But I think we've just gotta go back to really getting good propagate good nursery stock and buying virus index trees.

- I think a certification program in the future is going to be a critical part of trying to keep plum pox eradicated, if we find that we can't eradicate it, at least keep it to a bare minimum.

I think we're gonna find that Pennsylvania will come out of this with a top-notch certification program.

That is going to be critical as far as growers being able to survive in a plum pox environment, if that's what we find we're in, or to keep the disease eradicated from the United States.

- [Voiceover] One aspect of PPV survival and spread that is poorly understood is the role of native plants or weeds.

- The European situation is such that they had such a huge reservoir of virus in their commercial plantings before they could test or know it was there, that they had no need to really check weeds.

So they don't really know what weeds might be important in transmission back into the trees, for example.

So that's gonna be new territory for us.

It's gonna take some time to figure it out.

- There are other plant viruses that we're familiar with that exist in wild weed species, which serve as reservoirs.

In the case of plum pox virus, there are a lot of unanswered questions.

Virologists who have worked with this virus in the past they have artificially introduced the virus into a long list of herbaceous plants and found that many of them do serve as alternate hosts.

But you have to keep in mind that this list was arrived at through artificial inoculation.

It does not tell us whether the aphid vector normally visits those plants, normally tries to feed on those plants, or if in fact those plants have some mechanism to avoid infection even if an aphid tries to feed on it.

So there's this question about the fact that a plant has potential to serve as an alternate host or whether in nature it plays any role in serving as a reservoir for the virus.

- [Voiceover] If preventive measures fail to exclude PPV from a growing area, the next control strategy is to eliminate the virus-infected trees as quickly as possible before the virus spreads.

Virus-infected trees cannot be cured, and the virus cannot be eliminated from the individual trees.

Therefore it is necessary to destroy PPV-infected trees once they have been identified.

A single infected tree in an orchard would serve as a virus source for all surrounding trees in closely adjacent orchards.

Once infected trees have been identified, the cure is simple in principle.

Kill the aphids and destroy the tree.

There are a number of different approaches for how this might take place.

- By getting the trees out, if we can eradicate the virus, we will be able to plant peaches again later or at least my children may be able to plant peaches.

But we're on our way out of the peach business by doing nothing and so the only thing that changes is we might be going out a year or two sooner because we reported the virus.

But it would be a gradual, very painful process because the quality will continue to go down.

Trees will have a beautiful bloom in the Spring, and when you go to harvest them, the peaches just won't be there.

And so the plum pox will put us, Adams County, and the rest of Pennsylvania out of the business.

- [Voiceover] In Europe, growers manage for plum pox.

Infected trees are removed within a week.

If a tree cannot be removed immediately, it is cut off and the stump is treated with herbicide, since the virus can be spread from root suckers.

In France, where PPV is well established, this method can reduce the disease from 10 percent to 1 percent in an orchard over a 3-year period.

Trees are inspected three or four times a year and are pulled on a regular basis.

If trees are pushed out, rapidly growing sucker shoots developing from the infected roots are known to be a good source of PPV.

So these must always be monitored and eradicated as well.

The presence of plum pox virus will likely reduce orchard productivity and profitability.

Having to destroy these trees will definitely bring some very serious economic consequences.

- So we've looked at it using statistics from Penn Ag's statistic service, using their yield numbers, their price information, we worked with the growers on developing yield relationships through time and we've developed this net present value approach to looking at the value of the alternative income streams.

So we found, for example, that a six-year-old orchard is worth probably somewhere around $14,000 per acre, taking into account what the value of that income would be worth today versus say a 20-year-old orchard if I look at my notes real quickly.

A 20-year-old orchard would only be worth about $5,000 an acre.

- We actually have about 350 acres of apples, and 150 acres of peaches, and about 100 acres of cherries.

We tend to think of peaches though as being about a third of our income.

We certainly put a third of our work into growing them.

- If a grower could take out an orchard on a normal replacement schedule, they would typically take it out, prepare the land and replant it quite often within the same year.

But then it's three to four years before that orchard comes back into production.

And another year or two before it reaches its full potential.

And if these growers have to leave those blocks lay out for a number of years, it's a very large economic loss.

So it's gonna impact them in a big way.

There's no doubt about it.

- Because the economic impact of plum pox will affect people beyond the farm gate, we were very interested in seeing how this would impact on the larger economy of Adams County.

And we looked at three scenarios.

One scenario where we just lost the trees that are currently under destruct order.

Second scenario where we lost approximately 1,000 acres that are in the quarantined area of Adams County right now in Latimore and Huntington townships.

And then we also looked at what would happen if we lost all the affected stone fruits in Adams County.

Looking at the impact on total earnings and income for the growers, under the first scenario of 217 acres it would be an impact of about quarter of a million dollars.

If it was the 1,000 acres that are under quarantine, it would be a little less than 1.2 million dollars.

And if the whole county was infected, it would be almost a 2.9-million dollar impact.

So fairly significant impacts.

In Adams County right now, there's about 44,000 people employed.

Under the current situation of losing 217 acres, that means about 8.2 jobs.

If we were to lose the whole 1,000 acres that are in the quarantine area, that means about 43.7 jobs, and if we lost the whole county, that would mean about 103.9 jobs.

And certainly we'd have additional impacts on school districts, township, municipal taxes and so on.

- Boy that would be disastrous, if they had to wipe out the Pennsylvania crop, oh.

I can't even imagine what that would be like.

With the packing houses, wouldn't be able to work efficiently.

We have a lot of equipment and people here because of the peach crop.

I'm sure the other operations are the same.

It makes my labor a lot more efficient, keeps my people busy all year long.

I certainly couldn't put more apples in.

I can hardly get the apples picked now I have, I don't have enough help, I can't get the labor in to pick it, so I wouldn't want anymore acres of apples.

So it's either peaches or nectarines or nothing I guess.

Corner something.

- We have our machinery set up, tractors may sit idle in August when before we were keeping everything utilized.

So we had a very well-rounded operation and we planned it that way, it didn't just happen that way.

And if we take out all of our peaches and nectarines, it's going to be a big hole in the middle of the Summer.

And the real problem will be finding good quality help to pick high-quality packing house apples.

- [Voiceover] Historically USDA has given money for removal and replanting of various lost crops due to damage, but will not reimburse for lost profits resulting from having to destroy crops due to pestilence.

There is no reimbursement for the lost value of a condemned peach crop at this point.

As of April 2000 here are the available figures for plum pox funding.

For fiscal year 2000, APHIS has secured 4.7 million dollars for plum pox activities.

This amount is comprised of 3.7 million to conduct program operations, and 1 million to cover costs of tree replacement for stone fruit growers.

The 3.7 million for program operations consists of approximately a million and a half dollars for surveys and regulatory activities in four counties in Pennsylvania and two adjacent Maryland counties.

1.3 million for a national survey in the other 38 states where stone fruit is grown.

And $900,000 for methods development, to support and expand the current APHIS plum pox scientific effort at the National Plant Germplasm Quarantine Center in Beltsville, Maryland.

These method developments funds will cover costs to initiate opening the new APHIS high containment facility, which is critical to the eradication effort.

The one-million dollar figure will be used to reimburse stone fruit growers for site preparation and tree replanting costs resulting from orchards that were destoryed to control plum pox.

This funding is also available to reimburse any tree removal costs not reimbursed by the state of Pennsylvania.

PDA has agreed to reimburse affected growers up to $1,000 per acre for tree removal.

Estimated costs for site preparation and replating is $1,500 per acre.

Based on the 218 acres that are currently infected, costs are currently estimated at $327,000 However, 400 or more infected acres may be identified through surveys this year.

- I think the important thing from an indemnification standpoint is that the money that we'd spend now to ensure that these acres are taken out of production, and that we try to stop this virus where it is now, it will be money well spent, compared to what we might do down the road if we allowed it to spread and have a large impact on a very valuable industry.

- It's the only way you're gonna move this along.

Otherwise if there's no funding, you're not gonna get any cooperation.

And you can do all the regulation and everything you want, but you know how people are.

They're not going to listen.

And you hear the statements, I hear the statements all the time right now.

No funding, no cooperation.

And these folks have cooperated, bent over backwards so far.

I'm talking about the growers.

And they do that around here in this area very well.

They're here to try to help the situation out, not to hinder it.

- [Voiceover] Waiting for the establishment of an equitable federal indemnification program is one of the most frustrating experiences for growers.

- It's not been so much a why me as what's next?

We have been in a regulatory limbo for a long time.

And that's been the worst part is not knowing what they're going to do.

You couldn't make any decisions on what to do.

We found out this Fall, I was telling my crew I said I don't know if we're gonna have any peaches next year or not, I have no idea what they're gonna do.

Whether they're gonna take that two-mile radius and push everything out.

- I can see both sides.

The government in fact has responded quickly.

They were the ones that helped bring the European specialists here, they are the ones who responded and helped make the positive ID in the plum pox virus to begin with, they've worked with the University in getting educational materials developed and out to the rest of the country.

So they have responded quickly.

I guess the area that people are now saying it's slow is getting the compensation for growers when these trees are pulled out.

Because of course these trees getting pulled out would be a financial hardship on Pennsylvania growers but it's really for the good of the country to eliminate this disease from all of the U.S. and in fact North America.

- I don't see panic.

The fruit industry in Adams County is rather well rounded, it's a processing industry, fresh industry.

And peaches are a part of that industry.

But I don't think anyone's panicking.

Just deal with this.

Fruit growers, they deal with problems all the time.

It freezes, and hail storms, and droughts and too much rain at the wrong time, and this is just another problem to deal with.

- [Voiceover] So remember scout, report, contain, keep good record, and learn as much as you can about plum pox.

(serene music)


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