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Oregon Christmas trees and ODA head for Hawaii

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Officials with the Oregon Department of Agriculture are returning to Hawaii for a second straight year to monitor shipments of Christmas trees for any pest and disease problems:

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The harvesting and shipping of Christmas trees is well underway and nobody does it more than Oregon, the nation’s leading producer of Christmas trees. For some growers, Hawaii is an important customer. That’s why the Oregon Department of Agriculture will be on hand at the receiving end over the next few weeks:

MC ANINCH:  “We do this because we want to be on site to observe what’s coming in on the Christmas trees. If we observer there are more pests than we would like on those trees, we can communicate back to the growers here that we need to change the process a little bit and maybe do enhanced shaking or some other handling processes that will keep those pests from being shipped over to Hawaii.”  :19

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ODA’s Gary McAninch (MACK-an-inch) says they did the same thing last year and discovered some issues:

MC ANINCH:  “We shipped about 250 containers of trees over there and 73 were found to have pests that Hawaii did not want over there. Those trees had to be reprocessed. They went through a cleaning process to get rid of pests. It was primarily slugs.”  :15

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Ideally, Oregon trees don’t need that additional cleaning process or don’t get shipped back. Since last year, growers have implemented management practices that help reduce pest problems, including better mechanical shaking of the trees. McAninch will be among the observers in Hawaii to make sure those steps are working. In Salem, I’m Bruce Pokarney.

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MC ANINCH is confident that things will go better in Hawaii this year as growers have implemented some management practices to reduce the risk of pests in the trees:

“There have been some research projects developed and have taken place involving how you handle trees and minimize the chance that you do pick up and transport these hitchhiking pests.”  :13

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MC ANINCH says growers are now putting harvested trees on pallets of directly into the container to avoid pest problems:

“In the past, it’s been kind of common practice for growers to put trees back on the ground after they’ve been shaken. It has just provided an avenue for pests to re-infest those trees.”  :10

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