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Trees get clean bill of health

SAN JOSE – North state Christmas tree farms are good to go this holiday season after receiving a clean bill of health from state inspectors looking for sudden oak death carriers in counties affected by the deadly pathogen.

Scientists announced last summer that Douglas fir trees are susceptible to the disease, keeping Christmas tree farmers on edge until the latest state inspection. Nevada County wasn’t on a list of counties checked for the disease but local Christmas Tree farmers haven’t seen a sign of it.

“We haven’t seen anything,” said Sally Landsburg who owns Landsburg Tree Farm with her husband, Ron, on Highway 49 outside of Grass Valley between Auburn Road and Lime Kiln roads.



“There is nothing at this point in time,” said Richard Siebrecht who sells trees from Primrose Resources above Nevada City near Five Mile House on Highway 20. “I monitor it very closely six to eight months a year. Everything is normal.”

Officials from the state Department of Food and Agriculture who trolled Christmas tree farms in 12 Northern California counties other than Nevada found no cause for alarm, the San Jose Mercury News reported Friday.




”If we had sudden oak disease present in a Christmas-tree-growing farm, there would have been quarantine implications,” said Santa Clara County agricultural commissioner Greg Van Wassenhove. ”They would not have been able to move trees outside the region.”

State inspectors were looking for wilted foliage or a black to reddish substance excreted from cankers that stains the bark. No positive test results or symptoms were found in any of the inspected farms, according to a spokesman for the state agency.

Christmas trees bought at a farms that did not undergo inspections or are not certified cannot be taken outside the 12-county quarantine area, which includes much of the San Francisco Bay area.

The affected counties include Alameda, Marin, Mendocino, Monterey, Napa, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Solano, Sonoma, Humboldt and Contra Costa.

The devastating disease has killed tens of thousands of California oaks since the pathogen was first discovered in 1995. It has since spread to 17 wood species and can be transported in bark and dirt.

The clean inspections came as a sigh of relief for Deborah Livingstone, whose family grows Christmas trees at four farms.

”It makes everybody feel a whole lot safer,” she said.


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