Author Topic: Customs destroyed my seed order from Britain.  (Read 358 times)

Woody Gardener

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Customs destroyed my seed order from Britain.
« on: 2020-01-14, 08:36:36 AM »
I ordered 2 varieties of black goji berries and pre-stratified black currants from Plant World Seeds www.plant-world-seeds.com this spring and was very pleased at the quick germination. I put in a larger order in December and got an empty package with a note from the US Customs that said: Prohibited Material Removed and Destroyed.

I sent an email to PWS with the information in the note and a comment that I was not asking for reimbursement. Within hours I got an email back that said they were refunding my money and added the following comment:
"I'm sorry your seeds were intercepted.  By the letter of the law when buying retail packets of seeds you should apply for a small seed permit and labels from USDA.  These are sent to you and you then send them on to us (email is acceptable). We enclose the permit and fix the labels onto the outside of the envelope in which we send the seeds. The parcel then goes to the USDA testing station and finally onto you.

This is a link to the government’s page that might be helpful, as well as the mailing process and shipping label requirements:
https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/planthealth/import-information/permits/plants-and-plant-products-permits/plants-for-planting/plants-for-planting

We do not supply Phytosanitary certificates as all our seeds are purchased from reputable wholesalers in the UK all of whom have their own certifications; plus we supply only small quantities in retail packets.  To obtain a certificate would take many weeks and is very expensive as each sample of seeds would have to be tested here by our Ministry of Agriculture; as our suppliers have already done that before selling us their seeds we consider it unnecessary.
In reality thousands of US gardeners buy seeds from abroad from companies such as EBay & Amazon and don't use the permit system as the border authorities, in the main, tend to turn a blind eye. I'd say most are let through with no trouble - it seems you've been one of the unlucky ones.

Ellendra

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Re: Customs destroyed my seed order from Britain.
« Reply #1 on: 2020-01-14, 09:31:28 AM »
Sad when that happens :(

I've gotten that same note from customs, after I ordered from someone I thought was in the US but turned out to be from Taiwan. Did yours make it sound like you're being put on a watch list because of it? Mine did.

I don't think it's "turning a blind eye" when seeds are allowed through. I think the sheer volume of packages being sent back and forth every day is such that they can't possibly inspect all of them. They just intercept the ones they catch, and the rest get through.
Harsh winters, high winds. Temps on the edge between zones 4 and 5. Steep, north-facing slope. Soil is high in clay and rocks. Fast draining, which is a surprise for clay soil. Indicates a sandy/gravelly layer underneath.

Diane Whitehead

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Re: Customs destroyed my seed order from Britain.
« Reply #2 on: 2020-01-14, 10:21:09 AM »
The black goji seeds i bought from Plant World Seeds last year did not germinate.  How did you treat yours so they germinated so quickly?

Baker Creek offers them in case you want more.

Diane Whitehead
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
cool mediterranean climate  warm dry summers, mild wet winters,  70 cm rain,   sandy soil

Woody Gardener

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Re: Customs destroyed my seed order from Britain.
« Reply #3 on: 2020-01-14, 02:42:00 PM »
@Ellendra
'You may be subject to civil or criminal penalties'
For a while I was worried about Customs knocking on my door!  ;D

I planted 25 of each goji variety in 2" square pots in a standard tray outside about 2 weeks after the last frost. I put a clear plastic dome over the tray just before sunset and took it off about noon when the soil temperature reached 80 degrees.

I was out of Jiffy seed starter mix so I used a mixture of (approx.) 60% coir and 40% Schultz Premium potting mix. Germination was about 90%.

bill

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Re: Customs destroyed my seed order from Britain.
« Reply #4 on: 2020-01-14, 04:39:57 PM »
'You may be subject to civil or criminal penalties'
For a while I was worried about Customs knocking on my door!  ;D

Customs won't, but if they determine that you have received seeds from a foreign source that have a possibility of carrying a disease that is important to agriculture, the USDA will come to your door.  I recommend against sharing information about seeds that you are growing from foreign sources that did not come through the permit process.