Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Moving Grape Vines in Canada

Last year I had several Marechal Joffre vine cuttings and a few Acadie Blanc cuttings treated in a hot water treatment to destroy any potential pests that may exist on the vines.  The plant material originated from Nova Scotia and was moved to Edmonton.  By law to move these cutting further west to British Columbia they need to be treated chemically or by way of the hot water treatment to kill any pests.  As it turns out the plant material I had treated was poor, and it did not produce any viable plants.  So I did not have to move any plants last year.  These are the rules that one must follow under the Plant Protection Act which is administered and enforced by the Canadian food Inspection Agency (CFIA). 

Let me say first off if you plan to obtain plant material of any kind from another province than the one you are going to move the material to, then you should read this act and familiarize yourself with the regulations.  Reading this Act you find out quite quickly that it is perhaps one of the most powerful federal acts that provides the CFIA inspectors with tremendous enforcement powers.  This is good - it is important that plant material that could be infected with disease or insect pest is prevented from moving from one region to the other, or from outside Canada into Canada, and this is the fundamental reason for the existence of the Plant Protection Act. 

Historically one has to simply look at the west Kootenay region as it pertains to producing fruit, specifically cherries.  The region was known at one time for producing some of the best cherry fruit in North America.  There were cherry orchards abound in the region.  It is believed that sometime in the early part of the 1900 a virus was introduced into the area from foreign plant material that was brought to Canada.  This virtually wiped out the Cherry farms in the Kootenay region within a decade.  Looking backwards to move forward one can see the importance of the Plant Protection Act and the work of the CFIA.

British Columbia is virtually free from many of the vineyard pests that infect eastern Canadian vineyards and for this reason plant material, including cuttings, are banned from being shipped to BC unless they have been treated.  This ban includes the provinces of  Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfound Land, Ontario, and Quebec.  As best I can determine New Brunswick is still ok - for now.  But if pest or disease begin to become a preeminent feature in New Brunswick vineyards then I would expect the ban to be extended to that province as well.  This year I obtained some plant material from Nova Scotia, these are the KW96-2 or Evangeline as we call it.  In order to move these to the test vineyard in BC I had to get them treated.

The process to get the cuttings treated and then a movement certificate is quite simple. 
1) First look up your local CFIA office and contact them to see what the rules are for moving plant material from where your are acquiring it from to the place it will be planted.
2)If the material requires treatment, the CFIA inspector will advise you of the different methods - basically there is a hot water treatment or chemical (malathion) dip.
3)You arrange for a time and place to meet with the CFIA inspector so they are present when you treat the plant material (cuttings). 
4)On the time a date of the meeting, you treat the material in the presence of the CFIA inspector and they provide you documentation of the treatment of the cuttings.
5)You then propagate the material in a steril environment with no contact with local plants or soil and in a medium of 50/50 perlite/peatmoss.  The perlite/peatmoss is allowed to be transported across borders but soil is not.
6)When you want to move the material, in my case once the cutting break bud and have some roots forming, you can arrange another meeting with the CFIA inspector to come inspect the plants. 
7)When the inspector arrives, if they deem that your plants look healthy and free of disease or pests, they will give you another document (Movement certificate) that allows you to move the material to its final destination within a certain time frame - about 7-10 days.
8)You then move the plant material to it's final destination, in this case from Alberta to BC, and a CFIA inspectors will often meet you at the final destination to confirm the movement was completed.

The cost for CFIA to certify they material is about $55 for the treatment and $7 for the movement certificate.

The CFIA does an incredible job at this and they have a huge responsibility to ensure the safety of our crops resources.  What I found in dealing with the CFIA in Alberta and BC last year is that they are very willing to help, flexible in as much as they can be to make the process easy for you, and will bend over backwards to accommodate you.  From making the original phone call, the process was easy to set up and go through.