We formalised our strict biosecurity policy six years ago after it become very apparent that imported trees were responsible for several new pests and diseases in the UK, primarily Oak Processionary Moth and Ash Die Back. As far as we know we are the only tree nursery of our type that doesn’t trade stock direct from Europe for resale and immediate despatch into the UK landscape.
Much of our initial starter stock is home grown, raised for us as one year seedlings. These trees come with audit trails of providence and have never been outside of the UK. We also collect seed ourselves to grow on, please see the following link to a recent blog on how and why we do this. We grow these on as one year seedlings into 5lt pots in our triple span polytunnel and then plant them into our field unit the following autumn to grow onto the finished sizes associated with our production.
This is fine for our native range of trees that originate from seed but much of our range also includes budded/grafted trees such as clonal variations of Crab Apple and Cherry as well as other highly ornamental non-native trees such as Ginkgo, Liquidambar and Paulownia. To have these available for the UK market we have to import starter stock from European nurseries that we have known and dealt with for over twenty years. The stock is inspected in the summer before importation and checked for vitality and quality. It is then revisited and sample tagged in the Autumn prior to delivery when it is registered with DEFRA who then inspect at our nursery. The trees are then inspected again by DEFRA over the next growing season to check all of our trees are free of pest and disease. To back this up we also engage Bartlett’s Tree Experts to vitality test our stock through electrolyte leakage , chlorophyll content and leaf florescence.
We do not release any of our new production trees until September 1st each year even though they are rooted and ready for despatch before this time. This gives DEFRA time to complete their inspection cycle. None of these practices are mandatory but instead they are self imposed by us to ensure a bio-secure stock. We also risk assess our range and decide to stop certain lines where the risk of importing a problem is too high. In this regard we do not stock Olive, Bay Laurels or Cork Oak. We have taken a significant financial hit imposing these practices as our competitors continue to trade stock without pause.
Importing trees for immediate resale is a massive problem and we have been lobbying hard to try and change this practice which inevitably leads to importation of new pests and diseases into the UK. This is the industry norm and in our view has to change! I have attached our biosecurity policy and please also refer to another blog, this time highlighting the new threat of Xylella fastidiosa: Are plants safe to import?