(Oct. 29) South Korea has been given the green light to ship unshu oranges to the U.S. for the first time since 2002, when a citrus canker discovery prompted the U.S. Department of Agriculture to issue a ban.

Alaska became the only state allowed to import South Korean unshu oranges when the USDA lifted the ban Oct. 25 and issued import regulations, according to a news release from the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

Joel Nelsen, president of Exeter, Calif.-based California Citrus Mutual, said U.S. growers are not yet confident in South Korea’s ability to safely ship the citrus.

“It got to the point where we were asked if we thought it would work and if we were comfortable, and the industry response was no,” Nelsen said of the USDA’s decision. “But we’ve got to allow for an opportunity to determine if they can do it. If this fruit can get into Alaska on a consistent basis without any signs of canker, then we can discuss potential market expansion in a few years.”

South Korean unshu oranges will be allowed Alaskan entry under the following conditions, according to the release:

  • They must be prepared for shipment using packing procedures that include the removal of damaged or diseased fruit and be cleaned using high-pressure water and brushing.

  • The must be accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate with a declaration verifying the oranges were inspected and found to be free of Xanthomonas axonopodis pathovar citri (citrus canker) and Unaspis yanonensis (arrowhead scale).

  • They must be shipped in boxes marked to ensure Alaska-only importation and distribution.