CITRUS NURSERY SOURCE: Implications of New Citrus-Producing States

Daniel CooperCitrus Nursery Source

Shipping regulations for packinghouses and nurseries are being impacted as new citrus-producing states come online in the Southeast.
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After Alabama was recently designated a “citrus-producing state,” there were questions on how this might impact the movement of citrus plant material and fruit. Citrus Nursery Source reached out to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) Division of Plant Industry and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Plant Protection and Quarantine (USDA-APHIS-PPQ) for more information. As other states may ultimately be designated as citrus producers, it bodes well for nurseries and packers to understand the implications. 

Alabama has been designated as a citrus-producing state in the Code of Federal Regulations. This designation is applicable to all citrus movement, including plants, plant parts and fruit, but does not include seeds.


As a citrus-producing state, no citrus plant material may be shipped to Alabama using a Plant Protection Quarantine Limited Permit (PPQLP). These federal regulations were put into place to provide protection from citrus pests and diseases. Additionally, no citrus can be shipped to citrus-producing states from Florida under the PPQLP. This impacts all Florida citrus nurseries and some packinghouses (that cannot meet the fungicide or waxing conditions), as well as the redistribution of Hawaiian-grown curry leaves from Florida.

The entire state of Florida is quarantined for citrus canker and sweet orange scab (SOS). Citrus fruit from Florida is permitted to be shipped to all U.S. states and territories provided it has met all the conditions set forth under the Citrus Canker Quarantine and approved packinghouse procedures for the causal agent of SOS.


The Aug. 24, 2023 Florida Fresh Citrus Fruit Shipment Procedures document states that citrus fruit that cannot meet the fungicide or waxing conditions may either be inspected, found free of SOS symptoms and issued a federal certificate; or if found with symptoms, shipped to non-citrus-producing states under a Limited Permit issued by USDA-APHIS-PPQ. If a Limited Permit is used, the following restrictions must be observed:

  1. The fruit may not be moved to any of the following commercial citrus-producing states and territories: California, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Guam, U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands.
  2. Shipping documents and containers in which fruit is packed must be marked with the following statement: “USDA-APHIS-PPQ LIMITED PERMIT: Not for distribution in: CA, HI, American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands.”
  3. Fruit may be packed in mesh bags that do not have a Limited Permit on the header, but a Limited Permit must be present on the master bag in which the bags are packed.
  4. Your local USDA office may issue Limited Permit stamps to commercial packinghouses under compliance on an as-needed basis and may also grant authority to print and use adhesive Limited Permit labels. The Limited Permit stamps are accountable items. Custody and ownership of the stamps will remain with USDA but may be temporarily transferred to packinghouses on a case-by-case basis. Preprinted boxes, labels or bag headers may be authorized only through application and approval by USDA-APHIS-PPQ. Fruit must also meet all other applicable federal and state domestic quarantines. Non-issued/authorized Limited Permit stamps, labels etc. are prohibited.

If a portion of an inspection unit (e.g., a lot) has left the packinghouse and the lot is later determined to be certificate-ineligible for interstate movement due to noncompliance with the SOS final order, it must be recalled to the packinghouse and reassessed for a Limited Permit, destruction or alternative distribution eligibility.

It should be noted that the USDA is sensitive to the impact on Florida and is reviewing the current regulations that create the basis for shipping under PPQ Limited Permits rather than PPQ Certificates.


What about citrus shipments transiting a citrus-producing state? The regulation states:

Under the current regulations, regulated article (fruit) may be moved under a PPQ Limited Permit through a citrus-producing state if the load is covered or enclosed in containers or a compartment of a vehicle, while in the commercial citrus-producing area, and are not unloaded in the commercial citrus-producing area without the permission of an inspector. The shipper assumes all liabilities associated with the movement through, or the offloading of the fruit in the citrus-producing state being transitioned.

Acknowledgments: Special thanks to Paul Mears, Florida Citrus Health Response program coordinator, USDA-APHIS-PPQ, and to Justin Ezell, chief of the FDACS Bureau of Citrus Budwood Registration, for their assistance.

Peter Chaires is executive director of the New Varieties Development and Management Corp.


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