Citrus greening detected in Trinidad

Fruit affected by Huanglongbing
Fruit affected by Huanglongbing (USDA)

Huanglongbing (HLB), also known as Citrus greening, has been confirmed in Trinidad for the first time. The disease, which was detected on leaves from a lime tree in the north of the island, can cause devastating yield loss for Citrus growers and is regarded as one of the most important threats to global commercial and sustainable citrus production.  Continue reading

Citrus canker – a threat to orange production in Pakistan

Symptoms of citrus canker ©  Timothy Schubert, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Bugwood
Symptoms of citrus canker © Timothy Schubert, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Bugwood

Last week, key players in Pakistan’s orange production came together for the first Orange Exporters Awards, organised by the Pakistan Fruit and Vegetable Association and the Department of Plant Protection. During this meeting, Sikandar Hayat Khan Bosan, Pakistan’s Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research, announced that orange farms in the Sargodha region of Punjab are under threat from diseases, especially citrus canker. Mr Sikandar Bosan pledged financial reward for any farm owners that encourage new research to overcome the region’s citrus canker problem.  Continue reading

Update: Plant Health News (25 Mar 15)

Costa Rica's first carbon neutral banana farm had reduced its use of nitrogen fertilizers, reduced electricity consumption and improved the efficiency of transportation © The LEAF Project (CC BY-SA)
Costa Rica’s first carbon neutral banana farm has reduced nitrogen fertilizer and electricity use, and improved transportation efficiency © The LEAF Project (CC BY-SA)

Here’s a taste of some of the latest stories about plant health, including early reports on the damage caused by Tropical Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu, the first carbon neutral banana farm recognised in Costa Rica and training for Citrus farmers in Ghana on the use of technology to increase yields.

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Combatting the “black spot” on citrus production in Ghana

Contributed by Melanie Bateman, Integrated Crop Management Adviser, CABI in Switzerland

Citrus fruits with angular leaf spot (M. Bateman)
Citrus fruits with angular leaf spot (M. Bateman)

Not long ago, farmers in the Ashanti region of Ghana had seen citrus as a potential money-maker but now many are now giving up in despair as pathogens such as citrus angular leaf spot (Pseudocercospora angolensis) and citrus black spot (Guignarida citricarpa) diminish yields and make the fruits unmarketable. Many farmers have even gone as far as cutting down their orange trees and replacing them with cocoa.

Recently, a team of plant doctors, Ministry of Agriculture extension staff, researchers and other experts led a series of plant health rallies to help equip farmers with information on how to manage citrus angular leaf spot and other plant health problems constraining citrus production. The rallies were presented to unsuspecting members of the public – ‘spontaneous’ rather than regimented extension. The plant health rally approach enabled the team to reach many farmers in the affected area in a short period of time. It also served as a means for the team of experts to gather information from farmers’ on their problems and experiences.

During a plant health rally, an expert gives citrus growers some advice on how to manage some key plant health problems (M Bateman)
During a plant health rally, an expert gives citrus growers some advice on how to manage some key plant health problems (M Bateman)

For example, the discussions with the farmers uncovered another major challenge for the citrus producers: because of a lack of a market, farmers are unable to sell the oranges that they do produce. This is another factor contributing to the decision taken by some to replace citrus with cocoa. This feedback loop will help to strengthen the support provided to farmers. Ultimately, it is hoped that the support provided through plant health rallies, plant clinics and other extension activities will help farmers to respond to and begin to remove the “black spot” on Ghana’s citrus.

Update: New Pest & Disease Records (11 Jun 14)

Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cubense tropical race 4, associated with Panama wilt, has been identified outside Southeast Asia © Scot Nelson (CC BY-SA)
Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cubense TR4, has been identified outside Southeast Asia © Scot Nelson (CC BY-SA)

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 Phytophthora cinnamomi in the rhizosphere of agricultural crops in southern Bahia (Brazil),  the first report of Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cubense tropical race 4 associated with Panama disease of banana outside Southeast Asia and the first report of ‘Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus’ associated with Huanglongbing on Persian lime in Martinique and Guadeloupe.

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Update: Plant Health News (04 Jun 14)

Scientists have identified a gene that encodes resistance to Phytophthora capsici, a fungus-like pathogen spreading root rot disease in peppers © Gerald Holmes (CC BY-NC).
Scientists have identified a gene that encodes resistance to the fungus like-pathogen causing root rot disease in peppers © Gerald Holmes (CC BY-NC).

Here’s a taste of some of the latest stories about plant health, including the discovery of a microbe that could help control rice blast, concern over the effects of erratic rainfall on crops in Somalia and the discovery of a gene encoding resistance to stem and fruit rot of pepper.

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Amino acid stops citrus industry going sour

Lime Swallowtail by Tarique Sani,
SANIsoft, Bugwood.org

The citrus industry is of significant economic importance to the US, so when any potential pest appears on the horizon there is cause for concern. When the lime swallowtail (Papilio demoleus) was found in the Caribbean in 2006, scientists realised that it may only be a matter of time before these strong fliers appear in America. To try and keep one flight ahead of this zesty pest, scientists have come up with a rather neat solution.

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