The Oregon Department of Agriculture has declared that the entire state is now a control area for Eastern filbert blight (EFB) (download the order: PDF). Officials took action because a new, more virulent strain of the blight was detected on the East Coast. As a result of the declaration, movement of Corylus nursery stock into Oregon is highly restricted.
“Out-of-state filbert stock can still qualify for phytosanitary certification in one of two ways,” ODA horticulturalist Christy Brown said. “It can either be certified as coming from an area officially inspected and found free from Eastern filbert blight, or it can be purchased in small lots (25 plants per cultivar) and kept in a post-entry quarantine regime for two growing seasons.” Oregon growers may still ship filbert stock within Oregon or out-of-state without special certification.
Oregon officials have been battling EFB for more than two decades. In 1987, a quarantine was established that prevented the movement of filbert stock into parts of the state that were still disease-free. The quarantine was in effect for more than a decade until it was finally repealed due to natural spread of the disease and noncompliance issues.
Hazelnut growers cope with the disease today by planting new EFB-resistant cultivars for tomorrow’s orchards, and implementing strict fungicide treatment programs coupled with proper sanitation practices for existing trees. Officials are concerned that if the more virulent strain of EFB arrived in Oregon it could overcome the resistance of new cultivars, and it could prove too damaging to be managed with fungicides.