Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle on Guam – an update

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An adult male coconut rhinoceros beetle. Emmy Engasser, Hawaiian Scarab ID, USDA APHIS ITP, Bugwood.org

10 years ago the Coconut Rhinoceros beetle (CRB) was first discovered on the western Pacific island of Guam. Since then, these shoe-shine black, miniature invaders have spread to all parts of the island and are laying waste to the local coconut and oil palm population. The economy, culture and ecology  of Guam and other Pacific islands are intrinsically linked to the native palm species such that the rhino beetle poses a major threat. The indigenous peoples of Guam have a long history of weaving palm fronds, an artistry that is now at risk due to the rhino beetle. These trees are a symbol of tropic paradise, a motif that drives Guam’s primary industry; tourism. Continue reading

Update: Plant Health News (30 Jul 14)

Farmers in California are diverting water away from vegetable crops to rescue their almond crops from drought © Luigi Chiesa (CC BY-SA)
Californian farmers are diverting water from vegetable crops to save almonds from drought © Luigi Chiesa (CC BY-SA)

Here’s a taste of some of the latest stories about plant health, including the effects of typhoons in Taiwan and China, a new strategy for almond irrigation in California and a crackdown on fake seed sellers in Kenya.

Click on the link to read more of the latest plant health news!
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Making the most of Coconut in Sri Lanka

Coconut is well known for its flavour, nutritional benefits and source of versatile materials, prompting it to be known in Sanskrit as kalpavriksha, meaning “the tree which provides all the necessities of life”. Sri Lanka is the 5th highest producer of coconut in the world, with an FAO-estimated production of 2 million tonnes in 2012. The following video, created by The Perennial Plate shows just how important the humble coconut is to life in Sri Lanka:

Coconut: Nose to Tail from The Perennial Plate on Vimeo.

To find out about pests that can affect coconut crops, please click here.

From discovery to eradication: the coconut rhinoceros beetle on Guam

The coconut rhinoceros beetle has damaged many palm trees in Guam © Peter Lillywhite, Museum Victoria, Pests and Diseases Image Library (CC BY 3.0 license)

It takes a large combined effort to successfully eradicate a plant pest. The Guam Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle Eradication Project has finally found a technique that could bring them their own eradication success story. The coconut rhinoceros beetle (Oryctes rhinoceros) was first discovered in Guam on 11th September 2007. Over the past five years it has caused severe damage to coconut palms, although its initial spread was slowed by the quick reactions of the government. It is now present in many parts of the island and, as coconuts are an important economic commodity for the US territory, is high priority for removal. Continue reading

New plant disease records from CABI scientists in 2011

Pustules of the potato deforming rust, Aecidium cantense, on an African eggplant leaf © Fen Beed, CGIAR

In 2011, CABI scientists helped to discover new occurrences of disease-causing phytoplasmas and fungi in Africa, Asia and Oceania. Our scientists, based in Egham in southeast England, provide the Plantwise diagnostic service free of charge to developing countries to support the plant clinics, which give advice to farmers with plant health problems. They work in collaboration with scientists from other institutions around the world to diagnose diseases that can’t be identified in the country that the diseases are found.

As farmers monitor their crops for pests and diseases, new discoveries are being made all the time. New species of pest are found, known pests pop up in a new place or find homes on new plant species. Increased globalisation has facilitated the spread of many pests; more complex trade and travel networks have led to more opportunities for pests to hitch a ride to a new place. Changes in climate can also change the suitability of regions to pests, leading to a spread to locations not previously threatened. When it has been confirmed that a pest has been found in a new place or on a new plant host, our scientists publish their report in a peer-reviewed journal such as New Disease Reports to communicate their findings to the wider scientific community. The following records are those co-authored by CABI scientists in 2011. Continue reading

Sri Lankan coconut farmers predict yields for future climates

Millions of people in the tropics depend on coconuts for food, raw materials and livelihood. Coconuts are also a high value commercial crop. But like any crop, coconuts are at risk of drought and other prolonged events. By using climate science and better agricultural forecast models, the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI) has helped increase the resilience of coconut plantations to climate variability in one of the world’s major producers, Sri Lanka.

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