USDA Geneva not suppying scions this coming season

Here is the message I received yesterday from USDA Geneva:

Dear Requestor,

Thank you for your interest and support of our apple conservation program. During the 2020 season we had an outbreak of streptomycin resistant fire blight throughout our apple orchards. As a result, we are not distributing apple summer budwood or dormant scion wood this year . Although we are managing this disease and are confident our collection can recover, spread of this pathogen through distribution would negatively impact growers and research and breeding programs. Our apologies if this hinders your projects.

For this season, we recommend an internet search for scions or contact your local nurseries for suitable alternatives. Plant Information Online ( is a resource to discover nurseries in North America with specific cultivars.

We are honored to be stewards of one of the world’s largest and diverse apple collections and look forward to serving you in the future.

Bummer, happened this summer as well. Hopefully they can get it under control and we can get scions next summer.


Any idea if 2022 might be a maybe for scions? Any update?

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I haven’t heard. The problem is that the USDA Geneva along with Cornell University are in New York and the pace of work is quite slow among NY and federal agencies.

They were claiming a antibiotic resistant strain of fireblight was causing them to not send out scions, they sisnt send out last summer, last winter or this summer. A real PITA for those of us looking for genetic material that isnt easily found in a commercial setting.

I’m hoping they get something figured out and start sending material out this winter.

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USDA-ARS is offering a tour open to the public on Sept. 21, from 9 to 11.

Geneva, NY

(Regretably not able to participate.)

I had heard from less reliable sources that strep resistant fireblight was a problem in some parts of NY and mentioned it in FB topic a while back.

Looks like the problem may be bigger that I thought.

FB bacteria that is resistant to strep is a very big deal. It points to the fragile nature of a production system where the same chemical is sprayed over and over.


I live in the same area as Geneva, and most orchardists are NOT dealing with fireblight much at all. Some are, and some struggle with it, basically those that fail to act quickly and those that dont cut out strikes quickly.

Antibiotic resistance is a problem. So is fungus that is resistant to fungicides. If their not shipping scionwood and budwood to avoid spreading resistant fireblight their doing the right thing. Just because it isn’t a major problem for one orchard doesn’t mean that the problem isn’t devastating for other growers. I haven’t had any fireblight in my orchard. I did plant cultivars and rootstocks that are resistant to fireblight which I am sure helps. But I may just be lucky. Once a resistant organism is present it hard to get rid of. And we don’t have many options to control fireblight when it shows up besides one antibiotic.

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While I agree that they should not send out potentially infected material, it is a flag to me that they didn’t even change their message from the year prior. It does make me feel better that they are doing a fall tour though.