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WHAT CAN TEXAS NURSERIES DO? 

Nurseries can monitor for symptoms of lethal decline on quarantined palms such as the date palm (Phoenix dactylifera), Canary Island date palm (P. canariensis), Queen palm, Cabbage Palm and Silver or Sylvester (Phoenix sylvestris) date palm (Syagrus romanzoffiana) and sabal palm (Sabal palmatto), whether grown in Texas or imported from other states. If suspected symptoms are observed, notify the nearest TDA Regional Office for inspection and diagnosis. 

Who can I contact for more information?

Questions from nurserymen may be directed to Dr. Awinash Bhatkar, Coordinator for Plant Quality Programs, Texas Department of Agriculture at (512) 463-5025 or at Awinash.Bhatkar@TexasAgriculture.gov 

Importing of Palms

On imported palms from Florida, check for Date Palm Lethal Decline certification on the phytosanitary certificate and inspect plants for symptoms of date palm lethal decline. The phytosanitary certificate should state, "Palms in this shipment meet the conditions of the Texas Date Palm Lethal Decline Quarantine." Also, information about the treatment required within 48 hours prior to shipment and the date treated should be indicated on the phytosanitary certificate. 

In addition, verify that the imported palm shipments meet the Texas quarantine requirements for Burrowing Nematode, Diaprepes Root Weevil, Red Palm Mite, Lethal Yellowing and that they are certified free from any other plant pest as required under the General Quarantine Provisions (see 4 TAC chapter 19 for details).  Note that date palm, Phoenix dactylifera; Canary Island date palm, Phoenix canariensis; and silver date palm, Phoenix sylvestris are prohibited entry from Florida, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and Territory of Guam under the Lethal Yellowing quarantine.

If any symptoms of date palm lethal decline are observed on the palms, immediately inform the Texas Department of Agriculture office nearest you. 

What are the symptoms of TPPD?

Juvenile palms:  Extensive root decay early in disease development seems to be a common symptom. Leaf death necrosis is exhibited on the lowest leaves first and continues upward through the canopy, with the spear leaf dying last.

Mature palms:  The first obvious symptom on mature palms is a premature drop of most or all fruits and flower necrosis follows. These symptoms will only be observed if the palm is at fruit bearing stage and in season for flowering and fruiting.  The next symptom is discoloration of the foliage beginning with the oldest leaves.  The leaves do not turn yellow or may do so briefly, but quickly turn varying shades of reddish-brown to dark brown or gray.  The discoloration begins at leaf tips.  When less than 1/4 to 1/3 old leaves discolor and become necrotic, the spear leaf dies and there is no further development of new leaves. The remaining leaves continue to discolor from the oldest to the youngest.  Mature roots of palms at or near the soil surface become soft in texture and are easily broken. The palm can be easily rocked back and forth in the ground because the root system is decaying. This symptom is not typical for palms affected by lethal yellowing phytoplasma, causing another dreadful disease in palms.

Phoenix palms have numerous leaves surrounding the spear leaf. Unless the spear leaf is dead or hanging from the canopy or is on the ground the canopy must be inspected.  The young spear leaf on Canary Island date palm is often enclosed in a sheath that is brown and very thin. Do not confuse this brown sheath for a dead spear leaf.  If the spear leaf has died the palm should be removed as soon as possible since no new growth will occur, and the diseased palm will serve as a source of phytoplasma that can be transmitted to healthy palms by insect vectors.

        CAN Palms be shipped from quarantined areas of Texas?

Shipments of quarantined palms from quarantined areas into the free areas may be allowed when accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate issued by the Department of Agriculture under the following conditions:

1)  Quarantined palms located within one mile of a known infected tree may not move from the quarantined area for a period of six months following removal of an infected tree.

2)  Quarantined palms are allowed to move after six months if no other infected trees are found within a mile radius and the following conditions are met:

a. Quarantined palms located more than one mile and less than two miles from known infected trees must be inspected within 24 hours prior to shipment with no symptoms of lethal decline apparent; and

b. They have been treated with a pesticide labeled by EPA and approved by TDA using the label directions for leafhopper control for a period of three months prior to shipment; and in addition, are treated within 48 hours prior to movement.

3)  Quarantined palms located more than two miles from known infected trees must be

a.  inspected within 24 hours prior to shipment with no symptoms of lethal decline apparent;

b.  have been treated with a pesticide labeled by EPA and approved TDA using the label directions for leafhopper control for a period of six weeks prior to shipment; and

c.  additionally treated within 48 hours prior to movement.

4)  The tools used in pruning and handling of host plants may be allowed movement from the quarantined area if disinfected with one part liquid household bleach (sodium hypochlorite) to four parts water or some other suitable disinfectant.

        What treatments are required to ship palms from quarantined areas?

Regulated palms can be treated using any pesticide registered for ornamentals to control leafhoppers and used according to the label directions. Examples are the pesticides labeled for leafhopper control containing acephate, bifenthrin, cyfluthrin, esfenvalerate, imidacloprid, permethrin, etc.  Information on leafhoppers is available at the AgriLife Extension website (See Link) 

Can palms be imported from Florida?

Shipments of quarantined palms from Florida may be allowed movement into Texas when accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate issued by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Division of Plant Industry, under the following conditions:

1)  Quarantined palms located within two miles of known infected trees are prohibited.  Quarantined palms located more than two miles from known infected trees must be inspected within 24 hours prior to shipment with no symptoms of date palm lethal decline apparent.  They must be under a prescribed pest management program for six weeks prior to shipment and receive a final treatment within 48 hours prior to movement. 

2)  If all conditions are met and no disease symptoms are observed, the inspector should issue a state phytosanitary certificate and write additional declaration, "Palms in this shipment meet the conditions of the Texas Date Palm Lethal Decline Quarantine."  Also, information about the treatment required within 48 hours of shipment and the date treated should be indicated in the treatment section of the phytosanitary certificate. 

Note that only sabal palm (Sabal palmatto) and queen palms (Syagrus romazoffiana) can be imported from Florida under the lethal decline quarantine. Phoenix palms, such as Date palm (Phoenix dactylifera), Canary Island date palm (P. canariensis) and Sylvester date palm (P. sylvestris) are prohibited entry under the Texas Lethal Yellowing Quarantine.