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Hawaii says aloha to Oregon Christmas trees

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Oregon Christmas trees are starting to be harvested and shipped to far away markets, including Hawaii. Steps are being taken to make sure pests and diseases don’t arrive with the trees:

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Oregon remains the nation’s leading producer of Christmas trees. Being able to ship them to other states and countries is extremely important, and requires that the Oregon Department of Agriculture perform an inspection and issue what’s called a phytosanitary certificate assuring the trees don’t contain any dangerous pests or diseases:

MC ANINCH:  “Activity is really heating up. There are a lot of trees being harvested right now. Our staff is out inspecting trees in the fields and then after they are harvested as they are prepared to be put on trucks to be shipped to wherever they are going. Our inspectors are out looking at those trees and then writing certificates for those trees.”  :16

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ODA’s Gary McAninch (MACK-an-inch) says Hawaii is a key market. But like all other destinations, they want clean trees and will send them back if there are big pest problems:

MC ANINCH:  “They are concerned with things like yellowjackets, those are very common here in Oregon. Some of our slugs and snails are high on their list of things they don’t want. We don’t want to send them there, so we have a pretty vigorous program to inspect those trees.”  :13

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Hawaiian officials are looking at the use of a hot water treatment on trees after they arrive. Two ODA entomologists are traveling to Hawaii, by invitation, to help provide pest expertise and improve the process that will help not only the export of trees to that state, but other export destinations. In Salem, I’m Bruce Pokarney.

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MC ANINCH says ODA is cooperating with officials in Hawaii on a study to look at using hot water treatment to rid Oregon trees of pests upon arrival. This might eliminate sending the trees back to Oregon at the growers’ expense:

“Let’s say a load of Christmas trees gets to Hawaii and they find snails or yellowjackets on it, they are going to try and use this hot water treatment to kill or rid the trees of those pests. So the trees don’t have to get shipped back to Oregon, they can stay in Hawaii.”  :16

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JIM LABONTE is one of two ODA entomologists invited to Hawaii this coming week to help with the inspection of Oregon Christmas trees that have arrived. Their expertise in identifying Oregon insect pests will come in handy in several ways:

“Help prevent perhaps unnecessary treatment or rejection of trees if I can show them that, for instance, an insect they find is nothing they need to worry about.”  :11

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