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PENNSYLVANIA CHRISTMAS TREE GROWERS ASSOCIATION RELEASES STATEMENT CONCERNING SPREAD OF PINE SHOOT BEETLE

 PENNSYLVANIA CHRISTMAS TREE GROWERS ASSOCIATION
 RELEASES STATEMENT CONCERNING SPREAD OF PINE SHOOT BEETLE
 HALIFAX, Pa., Oct. 5 /PRNewswire/ -- The Pennsylvania Christmas Tree Growers Association (PCTGA) today announced that the supply of Christmas trees to consumers and prices of the trees would not be seriously affected by a proposed USDA quarantine to halt the spread of the European pine shoot beetle, which damages pine trees.
 "Consumers do not need to be concerned about purchasing a Christmas tree this season," said Melissa Nelson, PCTGA executive secretary. "Inspections will ensure that the trees reaching the market will be insect-free," she added.
 Only three confirmations of the insect have been found in the state, according to Nelson.
 "As of late Friday afternoon (Oct. 2), it was confirmed to us by the Bureau of Plant Industry -- Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture that only three beetles had been found in three western counties -- Lawrence, Crawford and Erie," said Nelson.
 "It has not yet been determined if quarantines will be necessary or even effective in halting the spread of the beetle," she added.
 Nelson said if a partial quarantine is placed into effect, trees from quarantined counties would have to be inspected and pronounced beetle-free before they could be shipped out of that county. "This is very much the same as the current restrictions imposed for gypsy moth," according to the association executive.
 "We expect a large quantity of quality Christmas trees on the market again this year," said Nelson.
 "Even if some movement of pine trees is restricted by a USDA order pending inspection of the trees, we feel the state produces enough varieties and sizes of trees to still serve the consumer," she added.
 "Nor do we expect a dramatic change in the price of trees from last season," Nelson said.
 The pine shoot beetle, which can damage Scotch and white pine trees, was first found in Ohio in July of this year. USDA surveys noted that the beetle has also spread to Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and parts of New York. The USDA said it believes the beetle many have come into the United States by way of wood dunnage in ships at Cleveland ports.
 The USDA, through its Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), has been monitoring the beetle movement throughout Pennsylvania and other states since July. A final decision on state or national quarantine status has not yet been released, although APHIS is expected to evaluate options following the completion of its insect survey. The National Christmas Tree Association has called for a joint meeting of beetle-infested states and USDA officials this coming weekend (Oct. 10) in Chicago to further discuss options.
 There are 42 million Christmas trees growing on 44,000 acres in Pennsylvania. The annual harvest of up to 1.5 million trees represents about $22 million in revenue. Pennsylvania is the fifth largest Christmas tree producing state in the nation and produces a large variety of pine, spruce and fir trees.
 -0- 10/5/92
 /CONTACT: Melissa Nelson of the PCTGA, 800-547-2842/ CO: Pennsylvania Christmas Tree Growers Association ST: Pennsylvania IN: SU:


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Date:Oct 5, 1992
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