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PLNA e-News: Plants, Pests & Diseases

PLNA Pushes for Plan to Keep Blight from Spreading Through Compost

Thursday, August 27, 2015   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Gregg Robertson
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Boxwood blightHARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) has alerted PLNA that new cases of boxwood blight have been found in Pennsylvania. The new cases apparently came into the state from boxwoods shipped to big box stores from an Oregon nursery.

PDA is advising the public that if they suspect boxwood blight to dispose of the plants and leaf litter by burning, burying or double bagging the diseased plants and disposing of them in a landfill.

The catch to this latter disposal method is that it is illegal in Pennsylvania to dispose of yard waste in a landfill and many waste haulers will not pick it up for fear of being fined for doing so. By law, yard waste should go to a composting facility to be turned into compost.

While the notion of recycling yard waste through composting is generally a good idea, compost containing diseased boxwood material could become a vector for the spread of the disease. The public brings yard waste into these composting facilities and often leaves with a load of the mulch or compost created by last year’s yard waste for their flower beds and gardens.

PLNA has alerted PDA to this problem and urged PDA to meet with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, which regulates composting, waste hauling and landfills, to work out a solution to this problem.

As e-News went to press PDA and DEP had met, but had not yet developed a written plan for contacting the waste haulers, composting operations and landfills to make them aware of this problem and assure that diseased boxwoods would not make it into the composting waste stream to be recycled back into peoples’ gardens.

PLNA will alert members when this problem has been addressed.

In the meantime, AmericanHort has compiled a fact sheet on how to protect your business from boxwood blight at this link.

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