Friday, April 10, 2009

A Tale of Peaches and Potatoes

by guest writer Robert Cox, Colorado State University Extension Horticulturist, Arapahoe County

Gardeners may wonder why they cannot order certain peach trees from out-of-state nurseries. The catalog description may say that the peach variety “cannot be shipped to Colorado”.

There are two quarantines on peach tree shipments in the state. One prevents the shipment of white-fleshed or clingstone peach and nectarine trees into Mesa County, Colorado. This is meant to exclude peach mosaic virus disease from Palisade area orchards.

The other quarantine prevents the shipment of peach and related Prunus (cherry and plum) trees into the San Luis Valley. Peaches can be the winter hosts for green peach aphid that carries potato viruses. When peach aphids move to potato plants in the summer, the crop can become severely diseased and decimate yields.

Some out-of-state mail-order nurseries do not attempt to determine county of residence when a Front Range Colorado customer submits an order for a quarantined peach tree. The nursery may instead choose not to send a quarantined tree to any address in Colorado. While frustrating, little can be done but look for another supplier willing to recognize that your address is not in the quarantine area.

If it’s a small consolation, many states have similar quarantines on plants that could introduce diseases or insects to an economically important crop. Both peaches and potatoes are Colorado agricultural success stories and worth millions of dollars in income to the state.
[Peach photo credit, Carl Wilson]

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