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New Camellia Nursery at Monrovia Growers

Monrovia Growers has established a 60-acre Camellia nursery adjacent to its 900-acre Visalia nursery in the central valley of California.

Both the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) have applauded Monrovia’s proactive move to establish a distinct Camellia nursery.

“It is truly a separate entity, across a river and canal from the rest of the nursery, and has its own nursery license and compliance agreement,” explained Gilbert Resendez, president. “Camellias are now shipped on their own trucks with no other plants from our Visalia nursery.”

He points out that this is the cornerstone of Monrovia’s best practices for preventing the spread of harmful pathogens, such as Phytophthora ramorum, also known as Sudden Oak Death (SOD).

Three years ago SOD was discovered at Monrovia’s Azusa, Calif., location, necessitating the destruction not only of all Camellias, but potential host plants that were growing nearby.

No SOD has ever been found at the 900-acre Visalia property, and Monrovia has made a considerable investment with stringent best practices, which include structural components of the new nursery as well as in actions of all the Monrovia craftsmen.

Camellias are grown on beds of compacted gravel that have a layer of plastic and topped with groundcover cloth. Plants are grown in smaller section sizes to discourage the spread of any pathogens. Drip irrigation is more prevalent, reducing the need for overhead spraying, since wet foliage tends to be a factor.

Water is chlorinated and all vehicles entering the nursery have their undercarriage and tires disinfected. Tools and other equipment are regularly disinfected.
“We are confident that these best practices will prevent the development of pathogens, “ added Resendez. “But should a situation arise, we will be able to isolate the Camellia nursery and deal with the problem, without disrupting shipments from our main nursery.”

Monrovia is one of the few growers to offer such a wide range of Camellia varieties – close to 60 – including the popular Ice Angels Series of cold hardy Camellias and the stunning Nuccio’s Bella Rosa. With the new Camellia nursery, the opportunity to increase production and continue to develop exciting new varieties will be significant.

PHOTO COPYRIGHT © Richard Shiell

Posted: 21 May 2007

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