Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor | Richard A. Ball, Commissioner
Joe Morrissey, 518-457-0752

December 10, 2012

24,000 Acres Now “Open for Agriculture” in Orleans and Wayne Counties

State Agriculture Commissioner Darrel J. Aubertine today announced that for the first time since 2006, state inspectors have detected no evidence of the Plum Pox Virus in stone fruit trees in New York State.  As a result, Orleans and Wayne Counties have been released from a Regulated Area designation.  The Quarantine regulations still remain in effect in these areas.

“This is great news for New York’s stone fruit industry in Wayne and Orleans Counties,” Commissioner Aubertine said.  “I’m cautiously optimistic that this progress will soon lead to a total eradication of the Plum Pox Virus here in New York State and in turn, the continental United States.”

Due to negative test results three years in a row, over 10,000 acres in Orleans County and over 14,000 acres in Wayne County will be released from a Regulated Area designation to a Quarantine Area designation (see map).   This means that Prunus trees can once again be planted for fruit or ornamental purposes in what was once a “no plant zone.”   Propagation, including collecting budwood and nursery plantings, is still not allowed in this Quarantine Area.  Fruit growers and nurseries are strongly encouraged to contact Plum Pox Virus eradication program staff at (518) 457-2087 before planting in these counties.  Regulations in Niagara County remain unchanged due to a positive test result for Plum Pox Virus in 2011.

Stone Fruits are fruits that have stone pits in them, and include peaches, nectarines, apricots, plums and prunes.  When these fruit trees are infected with the Plum Pox Virus, yields are reduced, tree life is shortened, and fruits are disfigured to the point where they become unmarketable.  The virus is spread on infested budwood or through transmission by aphids.  Aphids are small insects with piercing and sucking mouthparts. Plum Pox Virus does not pose any human health risks.   

New York State is the only place in the United States where the Plum Pox Virus is still located.  Plum Pox first appeared in the U.S. in Pennsylvania in October 1999 and was eradicated in that state in 2009.  The virus first appeared in New York State in Niagara County in 2006 and was later found in Orleans and Wayne Counties.  Since then, state inspectors from the Department of Agriculture and Markets have conducted surveys in a 16 county region, with primary samples taken in Niagara, Orleans and Wayne Counties.  During the 2012 survey, 155,927 samples were collected in over 1,250 acres.  This is the first year since the Plum Pox Virus arrived in 2006 that New York State has not had a sample test positive. 

“The economic impact of this new designation on Orleans and Wayne County growers will be tremendous,” said Commissioner Aubertine.

New York produces an abundance of stone fruit, with thousands of acres devoted to peaches, nectarines, plums and apricots.  New York ranks 11th in the nation for peaches, producing 6,800 tons valued at $8,352,000 in 2011.  Most of the state’s fruit production is around Lake Ontario; fresh market fruit is also located in the Hudson Valley and on Long Island.

The survey to locate and eradicate this plant virus is primarily funded by the United States Department of Agriculture – Animal Plant Health & Inspection Service, Plant Protection and Quarantine program (USDA-APHIS PPQ).  USDA serves as a supporting partner in this eradication effort.

“New York State has been a great partner with USDA in our joint efforts to eradicate Plum Pox in the U.S.  We’re really proud of the work that’s being done, and thank growers and homeowners for their cooperation in these efforts,” said Mafalda Weldon, Director of the Plum Pox Virus Eradication Program for USDA-APHIS PPQ.

“This is great news for Orleans and Wayne County.  We are hopeful that this is a sign of good things to come in the near future for the entire state,” said Jim Bittner, Chairman of the NY Farm Viability Institute. 

For more information, please visit the Department’s website at

2012 Press Releases