Bundled trees stored overnight on pallets. (Photo courtesy of Oregon Department of Agriculture.)

Bundled trees stored overnight on pallets. (Photo courtesy of Oregon Department of Agriculture.)

Export markets provide economic opportunities but come with added challenges and responsibilities. If you are thinking about exporting out of state or to foreign countries, there are a number of requirements relating to inspections and documentation.

The place to start for information on export requirements is the Department of Agriculture in the state where your trees are grown. Oregon and Washington both require Christmas tree growers above a certain size to have a grower’s license. Even if you sell through a broker or another grower, you need a license and your broker is required to list where the trees came from.

Shipping to foreign countries and a few domestic destinations requires an electronically-filed application on the phytosanitary certification issuance and tracking system (PCIT). This process requires a number of steps, so allow time to complete them. Briefly, to complete the PCIT process:

  • Log on to the USDA PCIT web site
  • Create a USDA eAuthentication account.
  • Link your new account to the PCIT.
  • Create a PCIT account for your organization/farm or join an existing organization.

When states, like Hawaii, require phytosanitary certificates, federal PCIT certificates are used. Do not confuse a shipping permit with a phytosanitary certificate. All shipments require shipping permits (available upon request from your Department of Agriculture), but only a few destinations also require phytosanitary certificates.

At a minimum, all loads of shipped trees require that bills of lading, invoices, and bills of sale indicate county of origin, as well as the name and address of the shipper. Oregon law requires that a shipping permit accompany Oregon loads.

Review the web site of your Department of Agriculture and be aware of the compliance and inspection needs for the species you grow and the destinations where you want to ship. Keep in mind that control of some pests can require years of effort prior to your first load of shipped trees.