Stoney Creek now plum pox-free

The Ontario community of Stoney Creek, east of Hamilton, has been removed from Canada’s list of areas infected with plum pox virus.

Federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz on Wednesday announced the “successful eradication” of the virus in what had been one of seven areas in Ontario and Nova Scotia where it’s been detected since 2000.

Plum pox is an easily transmissible virus that causes significant yield losses in tender fruit (peaches, plums, nectarines, apricots) and ornamental trees and shrubs. It’s transmitted from infected trees by aphids or by grafting or budding, the government said. The virus is not a human or animal health threat.

The lone area of the seven that remains under quarantine is the larger Niagara quarantine area, including Grimsby, Lincoln, St. Catharines, Niagara-on-the-Lake and sections of Niagara Falls, Pelham and Thorold.

The disease, which has never been spotted in other tender fruit-growing provinces such as B.C. or Quebec, has no cure. It can only be eradicated by removing or destroying infected trees, roots included, by burning and chipping.

Ottawa in November last year pledged $46 million toward detection, surveillance and financial aid for producers whose crops are infected

The federal government has estimated that not taking any steps to eradicate PPV would cost the fruit industry $114 million over the next 25 years in lost yield and quality, probable restrictions on border movement, the disease’s likely spread across Canada and about $900,000 per year, indefinitely, for Ottawa to monitor the virus.

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