Plantwise plant clinics – Pest diagnosis for a farmer in Barbados

A farmer, Pedro Welch, attended the Plantwise plant clinic at this year’s Agrofest 2012, the annual agricultural show in Barbados. He described the problems he was having on his lime tree, and the plant doctor diagnosed the problem straight away, giving advice on how to manage the pest. Watch the video below to see a plant clinic in action.

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Kenyan initiative aims to get more cash from cashews

Raw cashew nuts © Sakurai Midori (CC BY licence)

A new initiative in Kenya is seeking to increase the profitability of the country’s declining cashew sector. The project aims to increase yields as well as improve the price the farmers get for their yield by replacing aging trees, educating farmers on crop management and improving access to markets. It is hoped that by 2015, the output of cashew nuts will be quadrupled to 40,000 tons per year.

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Update: Plant Health News (26 Sept 12)

Lemons are amongst the citrus fruits affected by drought in Bolivia © Amada44 (CC BY licence)

Here’s a taste of some of the latest stories about plant health, including droughts affecting Citrus in Bolivia, discovery of a phosphorous-boosting gene in rice and improved tea cultivars in Malawi.

Click on the link to read more of the latest plant health news!

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Nuclear technology used to develop high altitude barley in Peru

A new video from the International Atomic Energy Agency shows how radiation can be used to make mutations in crop plant DNA. This process applied to a large number of seeds creates a selection of mutants that can be tested to see how well they perform as crops. Research in Peru has led to the development of a new barley variety, which has benefited farmers with its high yield.

Crop wild relatives help adapt agriculture to climate change

Wild Sunflowers (Credit: Luigi Guarino, Global Crop Diversity Trust)

The Millennium Seed Bank Partnership has begun work to collect seed from the wild relatives of 26 crop plants as their genetic diversity may enable us to adapt agriculture to future climates. Guest blogger Dr Ruth Eastwood is Crop Wild Relatives Project co-ordinator, based at RBG Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank at Wakehurst Place, UK.

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Update: New Pest & Disease Records (19 Sept 12)

Rice yellow mottle virus causes rice plants to have stunted growth and discoloured leaves © Sy & Yacouba.

We’ve selected a few of the latest new geographic, host and species records for plant pests and diseases from CAB Abstracts. Records this fortnight include the first report of Rice yellow mottle virus on rice in Burundi,  a new host record of the root-knot nematode (Meloidogyne javanica) on strawberries in India and a new strain of tomato severe leaf curl virus and a unique variant of tomato yellow leaf curl virus from Mexico.

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Call for help from plants before imminent pest attacks

Large White butterfly
© Giuseppe Andrea Mosca (CC BY-NC)

The deposition of eggs by insect pests has been shown to trigger the release of chemical signals from plants, attracting species to assist the plant in resisting attack. This is a valuable tool in the plant’s defences as it is initiated at the first sign of the pest, even before feeding has begun. The research was carried out on Black Mustard (Brassica nigra), a relative of cabbage, and the Large White, also known as the Cabbage Butterfly (Pieris brassicae). The eggs of this butterfly trigger specific volatile compounds, called oviposition-induced plant volatiles (OIPVs), to be released from Black Mustard.
These volatiles were found to attract two parasitic wasps: Trichogramma brassicae and Cotesia glomerata.  Continue reading