Besides being obligated by state regulations to control pests and diseases in backyard fruit trees, counties in the primary commercial tree fruit growing regions (e.g., Benton, Chelan, Douglas, Franklin, Grant, Kittitas, Okanogan, and Yakima) have active Horticultural Pest and Disease Boards (“Pest Board”) to enforce regulations. See Washington State RCW 15.09 “Horticultural Pest and Disease Board.”
The “Pest Boards” have broad powers and duties:
(1) To receive complaints concerning the infection of horticultural pests and diseases on any parcel of land within the county;
(2) To inspect or cause to be inspected any parcel of land within the county for the purpose of ascertaining the presence of horticultural pests and diseases as provided by RCW 15.09.070;
(3) To order any landowner to control and prevent the spread of horticultural pests and diseases from his or her property, as provided by RCW 15.09.080;
(4) To control and prevent the spread of horticultural pests and diseases on any property within the county as provided by RCW 15.09.080, and to charge the owner for the expense of such work in accordance with RCW15.09.080 and 15.09.090;
(5) To employ such persons and purchase such goods and machinery as the board of county commissioners may provide;
(6) To adopt, following a hearing, such rules and regulations as may be necessary for the administration of this chapter.
See: Pest Boards Play Critical Roles, 2008, M. Hansen, Good Fruit Grower
Especially in residential areas that are adjacent to or near commercial tree fruit orchards, the homeowner should think twice about planting and/or growing fruit trees in their backyard. It is actually quite difficult, expensive and time-consuming to successfully manage pests and diseases at home. In regions of the state with high-quality fruit available at local roadside and farmer’s markets, the homeowner can avoid both the management challenges and regulatory concerns of growing fruit at home by simply not doing it and, rather, patronizing local farms to satisfy their desire for fresh fruit. In some counties, the Pest Board will offer to remove unwanted fruit trees for free and/or provide a gift certificate that can be used for purchasing a replacement ornamental plant.