AUGUSTA — Shippers sending Christmas trees and wreaths out of state this holiday season need to know the import standards and regulations for those markets, state officials said.

Ann Gibbs, state horticulturist, said a little knowledge now can save Maine decorative-plant shippers a truckload of lost time and money later.

“Import regulations for decorative plants can vary from state to state,” Gibbs said. “Some call for inspection or certification of goods, others quarantine or altogether forbid importation of certain plants. Nearly all require the distributor to know these regulations prior to shipment, or else products may not arrive to market in time, or ever.”

She said the Maine Department of Agriculture has made an information sheet available that outlines other states’ import restrictions. Import standards for cut trees, wreaths and ornamental nuts and fruit exist to protect regional agriculture or other commodities from risk of insect and disease pests, Gibbs said.

She said in the past, Maine distributors learned about these laws the hard way when their tree and wreath shipments were impounded or destroyed.

“What will happen, especially in states like California – they get so much of these products that they will pull things aside until they can attend to it and delay shipping,” she said. “Sometimes things get lost and don’t get to their destination. We want to help make sure these products get through in a timely fashion.”

Gibbs said distributors need to clearly identify all their shipments, beginning by labeling them “grown in Maine,” followed with the county of origin and the name and address of the shipper. Labels also should indicate the contents of packages, including the different types of greenery and nuts, fruits, and cones that decorate the wreaths.

“This information benefits the shipper most by speeding along deliveries,” she said. “That’s important for this time-sensitive industry.”

 

Kennebec Journal Staff Writer Mechele Cooper can be contacted at 621-5663 or at: [email protected]