STATEWIDE, AR. – Arkansas Agriculture Department State Plant Board (ASPB) inspectors provide consumers with confidence that plants in local garden centers, greenhouses, nurseries, and other points of sale are healthy and free of harmful insects and disease. A team of 29 inspectors conduct annual inspections of nursery stock facilities across the state to ensure that plant stock is healthy and that dealers are purchasing from licensed facilities to provide Arkansans with the highest quality plant products.
“Inspectors work hard to ensure that plants are healthy at the point of sale,” says Plant Inspection and Quarantine Manager Paul Shell. “During inspections we check the general health of plants, look for signs of insect or disease infestation, and make sure that all plant quarantines have been met by the shipper.”
Inspectors focus on woody plant stock which include shrubs like roses, azaleas, and hydrangeas, and ornamental and shade trees like crape myrtles, dogwoods, Japanese maples, redbuds, oaks, tulip poplar, and sugar maple. Inspectors work closely with garden centers, nurseries, greenhouses, and other points of sale to ensure that plants are healthy, free of insects such as aphids and scale, and plant diseases like leaf spot and rose rosette. Inspectors also check to ensure that soil in plant containers are free of invasive pests such as fire ants that are often spread through soil. If plants have been brought from a quarantined area, inspectors check to make sure that the plants and sod have been treated before leaving the quarantine zone.
Inspectors also check invoices of businesses that sold plants to the retail points of sale for proper compliance with state and federal regulations. The invoices must have a state nursery tag if they are from an out-of-state vendor, and/or a USDA stamp if they are from a quarantined area. While retail nurseries are checked in the spring, inspectors visit nursery growers in the fall to ensure that nurseries are taking necessary precautions to protect these same plants from insects and disease during planting, and well before they are sold to dealers. There are currently 619 nursery dealers, 217 landscape contractors, and 101 nurserymen licensed to do business in Arkansas.
Consumers with questions or complaints regarding woody plant stock and industry representatives seeking information about licenses for Nursery Dealers, Landscape Contractors, and Nurserymen can find information here. Questions or concerns may also be directed to Plant Inspection and Quarantine Manager Paul Shell at firstname.lastname@example.org or 501-225-1598.