Sudden Oak Death (SOD) NJDA Updates

May 28, 2004

Phytophthora ramorum update (Excerpts from the NJDA Press Release)

New Jersey Agriculture Secretary Charles M. Kuperus announced today the first detection of Phytophthora ramorum (the fungal pathogen that causes sudden oak death or Phytophthora canker) in New Jersey. One lilac bush at a Cape May County nursery tested positive for the disease, out of more than 2,100 plants tested in 13 counties. The finding was part of a statewide surveillance program for the disease conducted since mid-March by the Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal Plant Health Inspection Service, and Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station (NJAES) Cooperative Extension.

"We are concerned about the potential impact of this disease in New Jersey's forests and landscapes since it is unknown how the disease would develop on the east coast," said Secretary Kuperus. "We are following the USDA protocol in following up on the detection to ensure the disease does not spread."

Sudden Oak Death became a concern in New Jersey when it was learned that large wholesale and mail order nurseries in California infected with the disease had shipped suspect plants to the state in 2003. Fact sheets were mailed to New Jersey residents who received potentially infected plant material from the mail order nursery in California, along with information on steps homeowners should take to dispose of dead plant material. The Department also mailed advisory letters containing a U.S. Forest Service color fact sheet on Sudden Oak Death to nearly 1,900 nurseries and garden centers throughout the state to alert nursery owners to the symptoms of Sudden Oak Death.

"Consumers should continue their normal spring planting of trees, shrubs, annuals, and perennials," said Secretary Kuperus. "Only one out of 40 samples taken at the affected nursery tested positive for the disease. The Department is working with USDA, Rutgers, and the nursery industry and will continue our statewide surveillance."

The Cape May County nursery where the infected lilac bush was discovered had received six plants from the California lot. However, those six plants had long been sold before the testing program in New Jersey began.

All susceptible host plants at the Cape May County nursery have been pulled off the market until they can be tested further. Plants in the lot where the diseased lilac was found will be destroyed. Other plants tested in the lot came back negative for P. ramorum. Plants inside the nursery, as well as the perimeter area outside of the nursery will be tested.

For more information, residents can contact their local county agricultural agent, or the state Department of Agriculture at (609) 292-8896. They also may visit the USDA Web Site at

April 28, 2004

The National Nursery P. ramorum Survey Program

The New Jersey and U.S. Departments of Agriculture are working together in New Jersey, along with counterparts in other states, in a national survey designed to gather information on the distribution of the disease known as sudden oak death, ramorum blight, and ramorum die-back caused by the pathogen, Phytophthora ramorum.

The National Survey efforts are concentrated in two areas, forests (coordinated by USDA Forest Service) and in nurseries (coordinated by USDA APHIS). Division of Plant Industry and USDA APHIS officers are surveying a representative mix of 30 nurseries throughout New Jersey. Forty plants at each nursery will be sampled and tested according to the National protocol. Growers are being requested to hold those individual plants until the results of the tests are known. The survey and testing project will be completed in approximately two weeks.

Sudden Oak Death Trace Forward Surveys

NJDA staff and APHIS officers jointly visited 24 retail nurseries and garden centers nurseries in New Jersey that received plants from Monrovia's Asuza, CA facility, that are hosts or potential carriers of P. ramorum. Any remaining plants were placed under stop sale until they could be tested for the disease. All samples collected in New Jersey thus far have tested negative for P. ramorum.

NJDA staff and APHIS officers have since released all tested lots from stop sale.

  1. Rutgers
  2. Executive Dean of Agriculture and Natural Resources
  3. School of Environmental and Biological Sciences