Potato Virus Y (PVY) is a plant virus that is spread by aphids (insects) and infects potatoes, tomatoes, tobacco, and other plants. It is not harmful to humans but causes a disease that may result in crop losses. There are strains of the virus that are much more harmful to tobacco even though tomato and other plants may be symptomless carriers. This regulation prohibits the movement of field-grown tobacco and tomato transplants into North Carolina from an area of Florida south of and including Dixie, Gilchrist, Alachua, Putnam and Flagler Counties (greenhouse-grown plants are exempt when maintained aphid-free and certified as meeting these requirements). The regulation was established when it was shown that tomato and tobacco plants imported into North Carolina from these areas of Florida were carriers of the virus. PVY is present on a year-round basis there because of the mild climate and succession of field hosts. Although the virus occurs in North Carolina on a yearly basis, it is not believed to easily overwinter here, and it takes a while to build up in a given field during the season. Infected transplants would serve as an early introduction of the disease into an area with resulting higher crop losses.
Changes in transplant production practices in North Carolina in recent years have reduced the need for this regulation as more individuals are producing and/or buying their transplants locally. Very few field-grown tomato or tobacco transplants are now being imported into North Carolina from Florida.
Additional information pertaining to importation of tobacco and vegetable transplants may be found in the Tobacco Plant Certification and Vegetable Plant Certification information sections of this site.