Begin Main Content Area

Fruit Tree Improvement Program

Fruit tree viruses cost nursery owners, fruit producers, and consumers money.

The Fruit Tree Improvement Program (FTIP) is a voluntary virus-tested certification program for fruit tree nursery stock, both fruit-bearing and ornamental, of the species Prunus (stone fruit), Malus (apple), Pyrus (pear), Chaenomeles (flowering quince) and Cydonia (quince).  A participating nursery is charged a fee and the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) provides inspection and testing services to the participating nurseries.  Nursery stock that is certified under the FTIP must have tested negative for viruses of concern and have been grown under conditions that limit virus transmission.  Any nursery stock produced in this program must also meet all other mandatory phytosanitary requirements.  The PDA can certify fruit tree nursery stock for export to a country that has import requirements within the testing and production standards contained in the FTIP.  To qualify for export, the stock must also meet the importing country's requirements for freedom from other regulated pests.

The propagation of deciduous fruit trees is a high risk pathway for the movement of plant viruses.  Due to the nature of propagation techniques, viruses can be unintentionally and rapidly spread during the production of nursery stock.  While some viruses are known to have a minor impact on infected trees, others can cause very serious diseases (e.g. Plum Pox Virus).  Economic impacts of fruit tree viruses include delayed maturity, increased agricultural inputs, reduced growth, reduced yield, inferior fruit quality, graft incompatibility, and plant mortality.

Once a tree has been infected by virus it cannot be cured, and the only way to remove a virus from an orchard or a block of nursery trees is to destroy the infected trees.  The Fruit Tree Improvement Program is a virus-tested certification program which is based upon the propagation of trees from material that has originally tested negative of all detectable viruses.  Programs such as the FTIP are the most effective way to produce nursery trees that are free from viruses of concern.  Independent components such as isolation distances, vector control, virus-testing, and field inspection work together to minimize the presence and spread of viruses in orchards and nurseries.

See Summary of the Fruit Tree Improvement Program Regulations

Participating Nurseries

Pennsylvania participates in the National Clean Plant Network for Fruit Trees: For More Info >>