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HVX Alert for the Northeast

Posted by steve_mass 5b (My Page) on
Sat, Jun 22, 13 at 16:40

Went to HD in Oxford, MA today because I needed some lumber and as usual looked at the Hosta. Here's what I saw.

S&S at Oxford photo HDOxfordSampS_zpsdff9103a.jpg

Then I saw more.
Shelf of S&S photo shelfofSampSHDOxford_zps8ea5c7a5.jpg

About a half dozen plants were diseased. I told the worker with the orange apron. He, of course, didn't know what HVX was and couldn't do anything about it. But he did agree to tell his supervisor who was at lunch.

Here's the wholesale grower.
The Plant Group Label photo LabelThePlantGroup_zps1d13289f.jpg

It turns out that The Plant Group, Inc. wholesales plants all over the Northeast. This includes most of New England, Eastern PA, New Jersey and New York. They deliver over 7 tractor trailer loads of perennials daily. Oh and they use mechanized potting machines that pot up 8,000 one gallon pots and 26,000 2 and 1/2 gallon pots a day.

What that means, of course, is that the Hosta potted up with the same machines that potted the ones pictured above are at risk for being diseased also.

So check the pot labels. If it says The Plant Group, Inc don't buy it.

I've emailed this company. I'd like to find out where they got their TC's from.

Buyer beware.

Steve


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: HVX Alert for the Northeast

what about emailing the state of MA agricultural agent???

ken


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RE: HVX Alert for the Northeast

I will do that. Perhaps the CT agent as well.

Steve


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RE: HVX Alert for the Northeast

I tried that with my diseased Royal Standard. The TX dept. of agriculture "doesn't do that" and could not regulate anything that has to do with Hosta Virus X.

bk


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RE: HVX Alert for the Northeast

The CDA (Colorado) actually did put a 'Stop Sale' on the diseased 'Sum and Substance' and made the garden center remove the plants I called them on, after they tested them and found them positive. Hopefully MA and CT will do the same.

Don B.


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RE: HVX Alert for the Northeast

Here is contact info for Connecticut and Massachusetts departments of Ag:

http://nationalplantboard.org/docs/summaries/connecticut.pdf
http://nationalplantboard.org/docs/summaries/massachusetts.pdf

I don't have any direct experience with this company, but in general, large wholesalers like this are very good at ignoring individual consumers. The only way to really make headway is through regulatory officials, as Ken said, especially at the source, in CT. However, in this day and age of huge contracts to big box stores, these wholesalers will do whatever is necessary to fill the orders. That includes buying liners from less than stellar sources to buying finished stock from any other wholesaler they can. Just because the tag and pot say "The Plant Group", those hostas could have been grown anywhere...from Nova Scotia to Oregon, and could have come from bare root Dutch plugs.

Unfortunately I have seen a dramatic increase in the amount of HVX in Ohio this year as well. I don't know if it is the plug suppliers or wholesale growers, or both, but recently the supply chain has gotten lax again.


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RE: HVX Alert for the Northeast

Steve... to ME agent too pls, they have the diseased hosta @HD here too.

This post was edited by melati on Thu, Aug 1, 13 at 21:21


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RE: HVX Alert for the Northeast

Thanks for posting Steve, I'm headed out the way in a week or so. Were those Sum & Substance?

Gesila


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RE: HVX Alert for the Northeast

Yes, Gesilla. Those were all Sum and Substance. I must say that that cultivar seems to be particularly affected. If you want to know where to buy plants in NE, let me know. You probably already have a list of places.

Steve


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RE: HVX Alert for the Northeast

Those same plants have shown up in VT at our local Home Depot.


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RE: HVX Alert for the Northeast

Please, please, tell me those plants aren't coming north to HD in Canada.


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RE: HVX Alert for the Northeast

  • Posted by Babka 9b NorCal (My Page) on
    Sat, Jun 22, 13 at 23:32

All the more reason to purchase ONLY from trusted retailers who test their hostas and deal with wholesalers who also do, as well as the TC labs. Big box stores as well as some mom and pop nurseries go for price. Not always such a good idea. Do your homework and ask questions before you buy, OR isolate them for a few years, as HVX doesn't always show up right away.

-Babka


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RE: HVX Alert for the Northeast

Yup, buy from unknown/unproven sources, and you roll the dice. I see infected plants at retail stores more and more and more. And 'Sum and Substance' are a good percentage of what I see, among others. Nothin' nice.

Don B.


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RE: HVX Alert for the Northeast

I found HVX infected Sum & Substance in the outdoor garden center at Ace Hardware and reported it to the manager. They only had a few hostas and I had no idea who their supplier was. I suggested they contact their buyer, since I doubt the individual Ace franchise does their own plant buying. They probably contract out the live plant sales in the spring. The outdoor house is empty now.

Steve, I am going to copy your post to AJ who owns and operates Vilts Greenhouses just as a heads-up. Let us know if you find where the tcs originated. It is really scary.
It probably is involving more than just the NE distributer and not just HD or Ace Hardware in Wilmington.

Theresa


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RE: HVX Alert for the Northeast

Ira,

I doubt if they made it to HD in Canada. They would need a phytosanitary certificate and somehow I doubt these plants would get one.

The problem is that HD in Canada has their own contract with their own wholesaler north of the border. Hopefully, HD Canada deals with a better grower. But the pressure to keep the prices low from large volume retailers causes problems to occur in production regardless of where you live. Just be careful.

Steve


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RE: HVX Alert for the Northeast

Yep. After having to dig out and toss 2 HVX infected hostas from big-box stores, I now ONLY buy hostas online from reputable sellers who actually guarantee their stock is HVX free, such as Made in the Shade, Jim's Hosta, HostaDirect, etc. The only upside to having had to remove the infected hostas (and disinfect my tools) is that I was introduced to the lovely heuchera. I am now wild about the beautiful TerraNova designer heuchies, too.


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RE: HVX Alert for the Northeast

In the interest of fairness, here is the response to my email from the representative of The Plant Group.

"Hello Steve,
My name is Philip Allegretti and I am the Nursery Manager of The Plant Group in Franklin, Ct. We supply The Home Depot in Oxford, Ma. with most of their perennial plants. Thank you for sending the photos of the virus infecting Hosta 'Sum and Substance'. We will make sure these plants are removed from the sales area and disposed of.

I am well aware of the problems with Hosta virus X and our protocols for handling hosta at our nursery minimize the potential to spread the virus from one plant to another. All of our Hostas are grown in containers. Nothing is grown in the field. No part of any Hosta plant ever touches any of our potting machinery. All plants are planted by hand on machinery that fills the pots with soil only. No machinery in the field ever touches a Hosta plant. Both of these protocols are so no tissue or sap from a Hosta plant is moved from one plant to another.

We have many sources for our Hosta liners, mostly tissue culture. I cannot reveal my sources. I will say that all of the Hosta liners that The Plant Group purchases are certified to be" free from virus". Agriculture plant inspectors consider the crop "free from virus" if 99% of the samples tested are free from Hosta Virus X. That leaves the door open for some to get through. We monitor our crops for the symptoms of Hosta Virus X and destroy any plant material that shows symptoms. The only way to truly know if the plant suffers from Hosta Virus X is to have the plant tested.

Philip Allegretti
The Plant Group Inc."

Steve


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RE: HVX Alert for the Northeast

And my response to him in case you are interested.

"Phillip,

Thanks for getting back to me so quickly regarding these diseased plants. Unfortunately, this is not the first time I have seen HVX plants at either Home Depot or at local nurseries. It is the first time that I was able to identify The Plant Group as the wholesaler.

I am glad to know that your company uses protocols to minimize the spread of virus during production. However, I am most disappointed that you refuse to reveal your sources for Tissue Culture liners. Whichever supplier is producing diseased plant materials must be stopped. Unfortunately, for those of us who grow and collect Hosta, a 99% rate for disease free plants is not sufficient or acceptable.

If you know about HVX, then you know that a plant can be infected and not be symptomatic for as long as 3 years. You also know that one diseased plant can infect an entire Hosta garden of an unsuspecting customer, especially one that is new to gardening.

I know there are tissue culture suppliers who can provide you with disease free liners. Q and Z and Walters are just two of those labs who supply this kind of high quality plant material. Unfortunately, the pressure from retailers to provide large plants at small prices causes wholesalers to buy liners from cheaper sources, perhaps from overseas. This results in diseased plants entering the market.

This is what your company has done. They have made an economic decision to provide plants that are mostly disease free instead of plants that are completely disease free. As you know, selling diseased plant material in either Massachusetts or Connecticut is against the law. I have contacted the Department of Agriculture in both Massachusetts and Connecticut to register my complaint about the practice of selling diseased Hostas.

I hope you have the ability to convince the decision makers in your company to make better choices in their suppliers for Hosta liners. It is only when economic pressure is brought to bear on those companies selling diseased plant material that this despicable and illegal practice will stop. I hope you will join me in helping to make this happen. I hope at some point that I am able to tell my fellow gardeners that The Plant Group, Inc., is a safe and reliable source for disease free plant material.

Thanks for your time and attention to this problem.

Steve "

This post was edited by steve_mass on Sun, Jun 23, 13 at 17:28


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RE: HVX Alert for the Northeast

Thank you, Steve. I know you speak for many of us.

Don B.


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RE: HVX Alert for the Northeast

Thanks Steve for all the work you have done in helping the HVX Problems going around to different box stores.

I have worked at a greenhouse with a potting machine and humans usually do the planting of the plugs, so was sure that was going to be the response.
Problem still would pop up with the spread of the HVX when the plants are shipped out and leaves are broken and touch other non virused plants. Have seen how those trucks are loaded...very fast not to waste and time and the workers are usually not very careful with the plants. Sorry to say!
Thanks again!


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RE: HVX Alert for the Northeast

Steve, went to HD to check if there's any hosta from The Plant Group here in ME and glad to report did not see their name on the hosta, but unfortunately found the same problem with a different supplier... Here're the pics.

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos


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RE: HVX Alert for the Northeast

Hmmm. Seems as if the Connecticut wholesalers are becoming ground zero for HVX. Let me look up these guys also.

Steve


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RE: HVX Alert for the Northeast

Hi Melati,

This is a contact e-mail and phone for Ann Gibbs, who is listed as the State Horticulturalist for the Maine Department of Agriculture, if you care to report your find;
Ann.Gibbs@maine.gov Phone: 207-287-7602

Regards,
Don B.

This post was edited by Don_in_Colorado on Sun, Jun 23, 13 at 20:40


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RE: HVX Alert

  • Posted by Babka 9b NorCal (My Page) on
    Sun, Jun 23, 13 at 21:09

Steve - Thank you SO much for your continuing efforts regarding HVX, and also for posting the wholesaler's response. Since they are handled along the way by people who have eyeballs and can (in this case) see the HVX leaves, there should be a warning not to pack and ship that batch and to have a serious chat with that grower/tc-er. But then in many cases it is all about $$$$$ and if these only show up sometimes, so, well, don't worry be happy??????

And, as always a photo is worth a thousand words. When someone sees a diseased hosta, simply take a photo of the leaves and also the pot with the growers name on it. Post it! The internet is a powerful source.

-Babka


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RE: HVX Alert for the Northeast

Thanks Steve. I find a few of Mr. Allegretti's comments interesting. To quote him:

"We have many sources for our Hosta liners, mostly tissue culture"

That means they are still buying some bare root plugs (which are field grown). That is where many of our virus transmission problems have come from.

Also: "No part of any Hosta plant ever touches any of our potting machinery. All plants are planted by hand on machinery that fills the pots with soil only."

The bare root plugs are typically planted by hand because they are too large and bulky to go through the the automatic planter. I find it a bit hard to believe, though, that they have people hand planting TC plugs (at a couple thousand a day), and they would leave the automatic potting machine sitting idle that can plant 26,000/day.


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RE: HVX Alert for the Northeast

I wish I had been as diligent as you Steve. I went back to Ace yesterday and checked their greenhouse and there were no hostas in it. Their supplier is Northern something (I must be getting old. If I don't write it down I don't always remember). I have unresolved computer issues that makes surfing a real pain. In the infected S&S I saw the symptoms were in an advanced stage.

Thank you, and shame on me!

Theresa


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RE: HVX Alert for the Northeast

Good for you, Steve. I've always stopped my complaints with the store management.

Same goes for me with what Theresa said.


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RE: HVX Alert for the Northeast

Just read this post today...awesome work, Steve. Thank you very much.

tj


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RE: HVX Alert for the Northeast

I've seen HVX-riddled hostas at HD, Costco and Walmart in Canada, not this year, but previous years.


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RE: HVX Alert for the Northeast

I agree with Steve's statement that HVX shows up many times only 3 years after infection. I had 2 nice mature plants since 2009/10 which this year suddenly tested for HVX. But then I have 2 h.'August Moon' which have 1 leaf each with a few marks as shown in the S&S picture and did not test positive for HVX.
Bernd


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RE: HVX Alert for the Northeast

I tested two hosta that looked just like those in the photos but worse. I would have bet money that they were infected with HVX but both tested clean. I used the test strips from Agdia the control showed just like it was supposed to but nothing came up on the positive test line. I would really like to find someone with a infected plant so I could see if my test strips are really working. The plants in question had multiple symptoms including ink bleed, puckering, distortion and split coloration on single leaves. It was my understanding that plants which exhibited many of these symptoms would be in advanced stages of infection and should test positive, am I mistaken. Could it take years? I am in disbelief of my results at this point, of course I was relieved that they were clean, but I am still skeptical . The plants were in a retail situation one was Sum & sub. Is it possible that something else is going on with this cultivar. Could it be particularly sensitive to iron or mag. deficiency or over fertilization. I suppose it could be a different virus.

This post was edited by Tzumuch on Tue, Aug 6, 13 at 16:29


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RE: HVX Alert for the Northeast

Tzumuch - do you have a pic of the suspect plant(s)? Leaf pic closeup as well? Without a pic, too much guessing. With the test kits you would use a sample about the size of your thumbnail, if too small a test sample, it would affect test. I would suggest you start a new discussion if you have pics as many may not read an old thread.

Paul


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RE: HVX Alert for the Northeast

Thanks for being so diligent, Steve. I only buy my plants from folks recommended by all of you here on GW. It always look forward to seeing the boxes arrive at my door! I do hate to see newbies end up with HVX, though. I hope the large-scale growers can get this under control. I cannot picture them risking their profit, though. Too bad.


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RE: HVX Alert for the Northeast

Thanks for your work, Steve! Sorry that I did not remember that you wrote about the grower 'The Plant Group'. So after I bought a $10 'Irish Luck' at a local quality nursery I read the label on the pot at home, and there it was : I bought that plant from the same 'Plant Group' in CT, not so good! The plant looks beautiful, but perhaps in one of the next years it will show HVX.

That grower must only not know how to produce healthy plants, they also have very poor quality control when they ship. The pictures shown above about S&S show well established HVX, they should have destroyed them before putting them on the truck. Considering that, my 'Irish Luck' probably has HVX too, but it is already planted.
Bernd


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RE: HVX Alert for the Northeast

Anyone know the name/number of a useful person to contact in regards to HVX being sold in (central) VA? After seeing oodles of diseased plants at seemingly every garden center this spring, I tried complaining to the local Dept of Ag peeps. The response was just what you'd expect.

I'd love to know to get in touch with someone here who might actually have some power. The only way the big growers are going to change is if they are induced to do so by the gov't agriculture regulatory entities. And we all know that's not going to happen with HVX unless the consumer base starts complaining.

Maybe the "tipping point" is closer than we think. Steve's recent attempt gives me hope. Be the change you wish to see in the world, as they say. I'd like to start by embracing my inner b****. Anyone else in VA care to join me?


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RE: HVX Alert for the Northeast

Anyone know the name/number of a useful person to contact in regards to HVX being sold in (central) VA? After seeing oodles of diseased plants at seemingly every garden center this spring, I tried complaining to the local Dept of Ag peeps. The response was just what you'd expect.

I'd love to know how to get in touch with someone here who might actually have some power. The only way the big growers are going to change is if they are induced to do so by the gov't agriculture regulatory entities. And we all know that's not going to happen with HVX unless the consumer base starts complaining.

Maybe the "tipping point" is closer than we think. Steve's recent attempt gives me hope. Be the change you wish to see in the world, as they say. I'd like to start by embracing my inner b****. Anyone else in VA care to join me?


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RE: HVX Alert for the Northeast

That's unfortunate to learn, Victorine. I was so hopeful after seeing the Colorado Dept. of Agriculture take 'stop sale' actions on retailers whose plants proved to be HVX-positive. Then I learn that Texas' Dept. of Ag. can't do a thing about diseased plants, and now your state's branch seems ineffective in dealing with HVX-infected hosta. I still have hope that people like you and many others I've met by way of this forum can eventually make enough noise to get more done about this. Best of luck with your efforts.

Why Colorado but not other states? That's what I'd like to know! I think I'll compose an e-mail to my local dept. of Agriculture with that very same question. I'll certainly provide this forum with any details to my query, assuming I get a response worth a #^%&!

Regards,
Don B.


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RE: HVX Alert for the Northeast

I spoke with a tech at Agdia and sent them the photo which I added to my earlier post. They said it sounds like I did the tests correctly. I did not get a green line or stick the test strip too far down into the fluid. She also said the tests are very sensitive for HVX you could pick up a leaf that had been on the ground for a year and if it had HVX the test would be positive. We concluded that the hosta in question could have another virus,since there are others which infect hosta.
The only other suggestion was that I send it in for analysis.


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RE: HVX Alert for the Northeast

Tzu,

I just saw your picture. Those Hosta do look somewhat suspicious, but they are different from the pics I took. I agree that they are more likely to be deficient in some nutrient. Your pics look like the pattern I see in very young seedlings before they "green up".

Steve


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RE: HVX Alert for the Northeast

I've spoken with a couple of wholesale nurseries in my area. They have no clue about HVX, and are not too interested in finding out about it. They buy their starts from brokers, so have no clue about their origin. Even the retail nursery that buys the Walter's starts, buys them from a broker.

This looks like a hard nut to crack. But, the 2014 candidates for agriculture commissioners are beginning to declare themselve. Getting their attention through an email now is easier than it will be if they win. If you find one who will listen, send them a few bucks. Make them aware of plant diseases and their impact on the environment and our future ability to grow today's plants (or however you phrase it).

bk


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