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Partnership on track to give Bangladeshi and Indonesian farmers disease-resistant GMO potatoes

John Agaba | Cornell Alliance for Science | June 29, 2022

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Reducing fungicide use and protecting yields, this Bt potato holds huge promise for the world. Credit: Cornell Alliance for Science
Reducing fungicide use and protecting yields, this Bt potato holds huge promise for the world. Credit: Cornell Alliance for Science

Researchers will be testing genetically modified potatoes in Bangladesh and Indonesia this year in hopes of providing farmers with an alternative to spraying fungicides.

Multiple confined field trials of GM late blight-resistant (LBR) potatoes will be conducted in both countries under a Feed the Future Global Biotech Potato Partnership.

Potatoes are some of the most important crops grown in Indonesia and Bangladesh. Indonesia produces about 1.3 million metric tones of potatoes annually, while the tubers are the third most important food crop after rice and wheat in Bangladesh.

But late blight disease is a serious problem in both countries, destroying 25 to 57 percent of the crop.

Akhter Hossain of Bangladesh compares healthy potatoes (right) to potatoes infected with late blight fungus. Credit: Alliance for Science

Unlike other pathogens, late blight — or Phytophthora infestans — can be complicated to control once it has appeared and farmers can actually see it, said Janet Fierro, communication and advocacy global resource lead at the Feed the Future Global Biotech Potato Partnership.

So, farmers begin to spray fungicides very early in the cropping cycle to stop the fungus from appearing. In some cases, farmers in Indonesia spray between 20 and 30 times during the growing season, which can last 75 to 160 days.

Fungicides are expensive to keep spraying. Credit: Zubrod et. al.

But this can be expensive for smallholder farmers, Fierro said. The synthetic chemicals applied also can adversely affect human and environmental health if not used properly.

However, the GM potato promises to change all that. It is expected to reduce fungicide applications by 90 percent.

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Partnership progress

Under a partnership funded by the United States Agency for International Development, Michigan State University (MSU), the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI) and the Indonesian Center for Agricultural Biotechnology Genetic Resources Research and Development, among others, are working to develop and commercialize an LBR potato in farmer-preferred varieties in Indonesia and Bangladesh.

Researchers in the partnership isolated late blight-resistant genes from wild potato species in South America and transferred them into farmer-preferred Asian varieties, using genetic modification.

Origin of the pernicious blight. Credit: Kentaro Yoshida et. al.

Then researchers at Simplot Plant Sciences screened more than 30,000 potato varieties until they zeroed in on the 10 best performing lines. Simplot sent the 10 selected lines to MSU for further greenhouse and field trials, which identified lines that were then imported into Indonesia and Bangladesh.

Indonesia has already conducted several field trials with the lines and Bangladesh recently completed a greenhouse trial. Results have shown the lines provide complete resistance to late blight disease.


A close-up of a potato ruined by late blight disease. Credit: Alliance for Science

“All of our research and data shows that this is a good product,” said Muffy Koch, senior regulatory manager at J.R. Simplot Co. “It is late blight-resistant and very safe.”

Data also show that the LBR potato performs “extremely well” in Indonesia’s humid areas.

Scientists in Bangladesh and Indonesia will now test LBR potato in multiple confined field trials to collect the necessary data to submit a regulatory dossier for general release.

Researchers have already applied for permits in Bangladesh to start the multiple confined field trials and hope to plant the varieties during the next planting season in November.

“It’s a lengthy process,” Fierro said. “So, we will probably go through at least two or three cycles of multi-location field trials before we test the varieties in farmer fields.”

Trials will take several seasons. Credit: Wharton PS

Farmers eager

Farmers should begin to access the varieties in the next three to four years, pending regulatory approval, she said.

The researchers do not expect delays related to biosafety regulations once the varieties have gone through all the required processes.

“Both Indonesia and Bangladesh have functioning regulatory systems,” Koch said. “And Indonesia has already approved growing GM cotton and GM sugar cane while Bangladesh has approved planting of insect resistant eggplant [Bt brinjal]. So, there is precedent that things are working.”

And farmers want the varieties.

“Farmers are familiar with the idea of improved seeds because they have seen the successes of Bt eggplant,” Koch said. “The performance of Bt eggplant has showed them that they can actually spend less on inputs and harvest more when they plant these improved seeds.”

“We have also had studies that show how Bt eggplant has improved farmers’ lives in Bangladesh and how it is safe,” Koch added. “All of this has driven the demand for adoption of these technologies.”

Bt brinjal was eagerly adopted in Bangladesh. Credit: A. Roy

Fierro said farmers she visited in Indonesia and Bangladesh are “very excited about this potato. They have seen what the potato looks like and can do. They are excited about the opportunity and potential this potato can give them.”

It appears the potential is huge. Apart from stabilizing crop yields, the late blight-resistant potato will significantly cut reliance on fungicides.

“Farmers will not have to spend [money] on fungicides that could be harmful to their health and environment,” said Fierro. “We expect that these improved late blight resistant varieties will reduce reliance on fungicide sprays by up to 90 percent.”

John Agaba is a journalist based in Kampala, Uganda. Find John on Twitter @jonnyagaba

A version of this article was originally posted at the Cornell Alliance for Science and has been reposted here with permission. The Cornell Alliance for Science can be found on Twitter @ScienceAlly

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 Grahame Jackson/ PestNet

 Sydney NSW, Australia

 For your information

 6 days ago

 0

TAR SPOT, MAIZE – ECUADOR

ProMED
http://www.promedmail.org

Source: Reliefweb, FAO report [summ. Mod.DHA, edited]
https://reliefweb.int/report/ecuador/giews-country-brief-ecuador-15-june-2022
In Ecuador, harvesting of the 2022 main season maize crops is ongoing under favourable weather conditions. Yields are expected to be below average due to low precipitation in key producing provinces. In addition, a fungal disease called tar spot (mancha de asfalto) reportedly affected maize crops, with negative effects on yields.

Communicated by:
ProMED
[Tar spot of maize has been known to lead to serious yield losses of up to 75% in Central and South America. It is considered to be a disease complex involving the synergistic association of at least 3 fungal species: _Phyllachora maydis_, _Microdochium maydis_ (previously _Monographella maydis_) and _Coniothyrium phyllachorae_.

Of these, _P. maydis_ is usually the 1st to cause leaf lesions. While _M. maydis_ is a common benign saprophyte on leaf surfaces, it becomes highly virulent only in association with _P. maydis_ and forms necrotic rings around the _P. maydis_ lesions. _C. phyllachorae_ may be a hyperparasite of the other 2, but its role is not fully understood yet. Leaf lesions may coalesce, causing blight and complete burning of the foliage. In addition, characteristic black shiny spots (“tar spots”) are produced both within lesions and on other leaf areas. Affected ears have fewer kernels which may germinate prematurely on the cob. Weakening of stems may lead to increased lodging. The disease reduces photosynthetic potential and therefore plant vigour.

_P. maydis_ is an obligate parasite; its spores are spread by wind and with infected plant material. It produces a potent toxin killing plant tissue. The disease is favoured by cool, humid conditions. Tar spot management may include fungicide treatments and use of maize varieties with tolerance or low sensitivity to the disease. However, resistance breeding is difficult because of the involvement of multiple pathogens. So far, little is known about the genetics of tar spot resistance.

Maps
Ecuador:
https://www.worldometers.info/img/maps/ecuador_physical_map.gif and
https://images.mapsofworld.com/ecuador/ecuador-political-map.jpg (provinces)
Americas, overview:
https://www.worldofmaps.net/typo3temp/images/karte-nord-und-suedamerika.jpg

Pictures
Tar spot on maize leaves:
https://ipcm.wisc.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2018/12/IMG_0418.jpg and
https://ag.purdue.edu/btny/cdcruzlab/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/TS16-scaled.jpg
Tar spot symptoms on maize ears:
https://www.canr.msu.edu/corn/uploads/images/Tar%20spot%20on%20ear%20-%20cropped.jpg,
http://i.ytimg.com/vi/ErB9pdiXPp4/maxresdefault.jpg and
https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4123/4886728754_57fe0982e9_b.jpg

Links
Information on tar spot complex of maize:
https://doi.org/10.1094/PDIS-02-20-0449-FE,
https://www.extension.purdue.edu/extmedia/BP/BP-90-W.pdf,
https://www.agweb.com/news/crops/crop-production/tar-spot-what-you-need-know-about-new-corn-disease,
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/266732736_Tar_Spot_Complex_of_Maize_Facts_and_Actions,
https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-3059.1995.tb01671.x,
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ErB9pdiXPp4 and
https://www.apsnet.org/publications/phytopathology/backissues/Documents/1992Articles/Phyto82n05_505.PDF
Tar spot information & resources via:
https://www.cimmyt.org/tag/tar-spot-complex/
Recent updates on tar spot in North America:
https://phys.org/news/2022-01-pathologists-collaborate-knowledge-threat-corn.html,
https://www.newfoodmagazine.com/news/161116/plant-pathologists-leading-fight-against-damaging-corn-disease-tar-spot/ and
https://eu.thedailyreporter.com/story/news/2022/02/22/msue-farmer-education-day-focuses-corn-tar-spot-which-hit-michigan/6881223001/
_Phyllachora maydis_ taxonomy:
http://www.indexfungorum.org/Names/NamesRecord.asp?RecordID=167673
_Microdochium maydis_ taxonomy and synonyms:
http://www.indexfungorum.org/Names/NamesRecord.asp?RecordID=811970 and
http://www.speciesfungorum.org/GSD/GSDspecies.asp?RecordID=811970
_Coniothyrium phyllachorae_ taxonomy:
http://www.indexfungorum.org/Names/NamesRecord.asp?RecordID=178431
– Mod.DHA

 Maize

 Tar_spot

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Soybeans Under Attack – Cotton Leafworm
June 23, 2022       On June 5, 2022,  a partner in  Sakha, Egypt, noted feeding damage in their soybean field 15 days after planting and alerted the SIL Disease and Pest Team (DPT). The soybeans were in the second vegetative stage (V2), so still young small plants. The feeding occurred between the leaves veins and was circular and  irregularly shaped with rough edges. Droppings were present on the leaves, and younger worms were only scratching the leaf surface, leaving a white film in some cases.       Collegues in Egypt identified the pest as the cotton leafworm and sprayed the field with insecticides containing Chlorfluazuron for control. The cotton leafwork had migrated from nearby cotton fields and demonstrates that pests from other crops can feed on soybean.  When newly introduced or rotated in, soybean may serve as an opportunistic food source for insects, such as occurred here in this traditional cotton region.     To help keep your soybeans healthy, the DPT created the Disease and Pest ID Board Facebook page and a Whatsapp group to help soybean producers keep abreast of pests and disease in their area, share photos and treatments, and seek and receive technical support and solutions. Join the Facebook page and Whatsapp group by scanning the QR code in the picture or contact Dr. Vitor Favoretto  (vrf2@illinois.edu/ +1 217 974 5296) and be a part of this network!. Together, we are stronger for soybean success!
  Like On Facebook Like On Facebook Follow On Twitter Follow On Twitter Visit Our Website Visit Our Website Contact Us Contact Us   Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Soybean Value Chain Research (Soybean Innovation Lab)
1301 West Gregory Drive, Urbana, IL 61801 * Tel. (217) 333-7425 * soybeaninnovationlab@illinois.edu  

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New data on quarantine pests and pests of the EPPO Alert List

By searching through the literature, the EPPO Secretariat has extracted the following new data concerning quarantine pests and pests included (or formerly included) on the EPPO Alert List, and indicated in bold the situation of the pest concerned using the terms of ISPM 8.

  • New records

In China, Ralstonia syzygii subsp. indonesiensis (EPPO A1 List) was isolated for the first time from wilted tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum). The identity of the bacteria was confirmed by sequencing. This is the first record of this subspecies on tobacco, and the first record of the species in China (Lu et al., 2021).

In Brazil, Zaprionus tuberculatus (Diptera: Drosophilidae – formerly EPPO Alert List) was first recorded in January 2020 in urban parks in Brasilia (Distrito Federal) and in 2021 in several natural reserves around the city. This is the first record of the species in the Americas (Cavalcanti et al., 2021).

  • Detailed records

In the USA, Elsinoë australis (EU Annexes), the causal agent of sweet orange scab, is first reported from Alabama. Two quarantine areas have been established in Baldwin and Mobile counties, respectively (NAPPO, 2021). 

The pest status of Elsinoë australis in the USA is officially declared as: Present: not widely distributed and under official control.

In Western Siberia (RU), Ips amitinus (Coleoptera: Curculionidae: Scolytinae – EU Annexes) was first recorded in 2019 in Tomsk (237 ha) and Kemerovo oblasts (1033 ha), damaging Pinus sibirica (Siberian pine) (EPPO RS 2020/067). Further studies have shown that the pest rapidly spread within Siberian pine forests in Tomsk, Kemerovo, and Novosibirsk oblasts, covering an area of 31 200 km². Considering its spread towards the east, and the fact that I. amitinus successfully colonized P. koraiensis (Korean pine) in an arboretum near Tomsk, the authors noted that I. amitinus might also represent a threat to P. koraiensis in the Russian Far East (Kerchev et al., 2022).

In France, in the framework of the official surveys for potato cyst nematodes, Globodera rostochiensis (EPPO A2 List) was detected in a field of potato (Solanum tuberosum) in Puy-de-Dôme department (Auvergne-Rhônes-Alpes region). Eradication measures are applied (NPPO of France, 2022-05). 

The pest status of Globodera rostochiensis in France is officially declared as: Transient, actionable, under eradication.

In Iran, tomato brown rugose fruit virus (Tobamovirus, ToBRFV – EPPO A2 List) had previously been reported from tomato crops (EPPO RS 2021/235). It has been also reported from symptomatic bell pepper crops (Capsicum sp.) in late December 2021 (Esmaeilzadeh & Koolivand, 2021).

In the United Kingdom, tomato brown rugose fruit virus (Tobamovirus, ToBRFV – EPPO A2 List) was declared eradicated in December 2021 (EPPO RS 2022/018). In May 2022, a new outbreak was confirmed in a tomato production site in the West Midlands which had been first infected in 2020. Eradication measures are applied. 

The pest status of tomato brown rugose fruit virus in the United Kingdom is officially declared as: Present: not widely distributed and under official control.

In Western Australia (AU), Thekopsora minima (EPPO A2 List) was found for the first time in April 2022. This blueberry rust has been found in several locations, including the Perth metropolitan area, Manjimup, and Swan View. In Australia, T. minima is present in New South Wales, Queensland, and Victoria, and is subject to containment measures in Tasmania. In Western Australia, eradication of the disease is not considered feasible (Government of Western Australia, Greenlife Industry Australia, 2022).

Citrus canker caused by Xanthomonas citri pv. citri (EPPO A1 List) was found in a nursery in South Carolina (USA) in February 2022 on Citrus meyeri and Citrus aurantifolia. Eradication measures are applied in the nursery and trace-forward activities are conducted to trace and destroy citrus plants sold to customers in 11 US states (Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, and Washington) (USDA-APHIS, 2022).

  • New pests and taxonomy

The causal agent of a severe needle blight disease observed in New Zealand (Gisborne region, North Island) on Podocarpus totara (Podocarpaceae) has been identified as a new phytophthora species called Phytophthora podocarpi sp. nov. Affected totara trees show needle dieback in the lower crown. Infected needles initially turn khaki in colour, then blacken and fall. Shoot infection causes the needles above the point of infection to turn brown, and as these remain attached, affected trees have a scorched appearance. To-date, the disease has affected a small number of trees and no mortality has been observed (Dobbie et al., 2022).

Sources

Cavalcanti FA, Ribeiro LB, Marins G, Tonelli GS, Báo SN, Yassin A, Tidon R (2021) Geographic expansion of an invasive fly: first record of Zaprionus tuberculatus (Diptera: Drosophilidae) in the Americas. Annals of the Entomological Society of America, saab052. https://doi.org/10.1093/aesa/saab052 

Dobbie K, Scott P, Taylor P, Panda P, Sen D, Dick M, McDougal R (2022) Phytophthora podocarpi sp. nov. from diseased needles and shoots of Podocarpus in New Zealand. Forests 13, 214. https://doi.org/10.3390/f13020214

Esmaeilzadeh F, Koolivand D (2022) First report of tomato brown rugose fruit virus infecting bell pepper in Iran. Journal of Plant Pathology (early view). https://doi.org/10.1007/s42161-022-01094-2

Government of Western Australia (2022-05-16) Blueberry rust: biosecurity alert. https://www.agric.wa.gov.au/plant-biosecurity/blueberry-rust-declared-pest#:~:text=Blueberry%20rust%20

Greenlife Industry Australia (2022) Blueberry rust in Western Australia. https://www.greenlifeindustry.com.au/communications-centre/blueberry-rust-in-western-australia

Kerchev IA, Krivets SA, Bisirova EM, Smirnov NA (2022) Distribution of the small spruce bark beetle Ips amitinus (Eichhoff, 1872) in Western Siberia. Russian Journal of Biological Invasions 13(1), 58–63. https://doi.org/10.1134/S2075111722010076

Lu CH, Li JY, Mi MG, Lin ZL, Jiang N, Gai XT, Jun-Hong M, Lei LP, Xia ZY (2021) Complete genome sequence of Ralstonia syzygii subsp. indonesiensis strain LLRS-1, isolated from wilted tobacco in China. Phytopathology 111(12), 2392-2394.

NAPPO Phytosanitary Pest Alert System. Official Pest Reports. Elsinoë australis (causal agent of Sweet Orange Scab): APHIS adds Baldwin and Mobile Counties in Alabama to the Domestic Quarantine Area (2021-12-17) https://pestalerts.org/official-pest-report/elsino-australis-causal-agent-sweet-orange-scab-aphis-adds-baldwin-and-mobile.

NPPO of France (2022-05).

NPPO of the United Kingdom (2022-05).

USDA-Aphis (2022-03-08) USDA confirms citrus canker in a South Carolina nursery and takes action. https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/planthealth/plant-pest-and-disease-programs/pests-and-diseases/citrus/citrus-canker/citrus-canker

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The workshop will take place from 19 to 20 September 2022, at Queen Elizabeth II Centre, London, United Kingdom. Participation is free of charge.

Register NOW! Before is too late*.

More information on the programme and updates available HERE

*registration will be open until 31 July 2022, there are limited places.

For more information contact ippc@fao.org

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Southern Rust Identified in Corn – Be Vigilant & Scout

by Ethan Carter | Jun 3, 2022 | CornDiseaseField CropsPest Management

Ethan Carter, Regional Crop IPM Agent, Ian Small, UF/IFAS NFREC Plant Pathologist, and Nick Dufault, UF/IFAS Extension Pathologist

Many of the Panhandle’s March planted corn fields are now well into tassel stage (VT), while others are rapidly approaching that developmental milestone. From tassel to milk stage (R3) is a key period during the season when it is critical to prevent yield loss due to disease. It is very important for growers to scout and consider disease pressure leading up to these critical growth stages.

Southern rust is one of the most concerning corn diseases for our area. Yield losses up to 45 percent have been reported with severe disease. Timely fungicide applications can usually save 5-10 bushels/Acre, with applications between the silking (R1) and milk stage (R3) providing the most yield savings. According to UGA’s Extension Pathologist Bob Kemerait, early onset southern rust can have the potential yield loss of 100 bu/A, if left untreated. Additional applications may be needed for season-long crop protection, depending on the timing of disease onset and the intended use of the corn i.e. grain vs silage. Applying a fungicide to field corn within two weeks (50 percent starch line) of physiological maturity (black layer) is unlikely to provide an economic benefit.

Typical southern rust signs with (top) orange to light brown, small and densely packed pustules on the upper leaf surface. (bottom) The lower leaf surface has yellow flecks and very few if any pustules. These symptoms and signs can distinguish southern rust from common rust.

–Southern rust of corn was identified in late April in South Florida (Jupiter), North Central Florida in late May (Citra), Southwest Georgia (Wayne County) on June 1st, and Southeast Georgia (Grady County) on June 2nd. The rainy weather across the Panhandle the past 10 days has created a perfect opportunity for disease development. Southern rust spores are carried long distances by wind. The recent rain and humid conditions create a damp microclimate in fields providing conducive conditions for spores to germinate and infect plants.

An excellent resource for fungicide efficacy on corn diseases with an extensive product list is provided by the Corn Disease Working Group (page 2). There are many labeled products available, each with strengths and weaknesses relating to different diseases. Products with mixed modes of action tend to have a longer protective window compared to those with a single mode of action. Mixed modes of action tend to provide better efficacy and more robust disease protection, as well as reducing the risk of resistance development. Use the link above to compare product efficacies for southern rust.  Some example products with single and mixed modes of action that have southern rust activity are listed below.

Example products with mixed modes of action include:

  • TrivaPro 2.21 SE (13.7 oz/A)
  • Headline AMP 1.68 SC (10-14.4 oz/A)
  • Veltyma (7-10 oz/A)
  • Approach Prima 2.34 SC (3.4-6.8 oz/A)
  • Stratego YLD 4.18 SC (4-5 oz/A)
  • Delaro Complete 3.83 SC (8-12 oz/A)

Example products with single modes of action include:

  • Tebuconazole (4-6 oz/A- depending on product)
  • Headline 2.09 EC/SC (6-12 oz/A)
  • Quadris 2.08 SC (6-15.5 oz/A- depending on product)
  • Domark 230 ME (4-6 oz/A)

–For additional information about Southern rust of corn use the following link for the Southern Crop Protection Network’s Southern Corn Rust Disease Management Guide.  For other information, contact your local extension office.

Ethan Carter

Ethan Carter

Ethan Carter is the Regional Row Crop IPM Agent based in Jackson County. He earned his BS in Food and Resource Economics, and his MS in Agronomy, both from the University of Florida.

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Banana freckle disease found in the Northern Territory again

Landline

 / By Matt Brann

Posted Tue 31 May 2022 at 9:25pmTuesday 31 May 2022 at 9:25pm, updated Tue 31 May 2022 at 9:46pmTuesday 31 May 2022 at 9:46pm

Banana Freckle
Banana freckle has been detected on a property south of Darwin.(Supplied)

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The plant disease known as banana freckle has been found in the Northern Territory again, three years after it was officially eradicated from Australia.

Key points:

  • Banana freckle has been discovered on a rural property in the Batchelor region
  • Restrictions placed on only one property so far
  • Banana freckle affects the fruit and leaves of the banana plant

NT Farmers chief executive Paul Burke said the disease had been confirmed on a rural, residential property in the Batchelor region, south of Darwin, on Tuesday afternoon.

Mr Burke said it was too early to determine the source or the potential spread of the disease.

“Banana freckle causes leaves and fruit to become spotty and has a sandpaper feel when touched,” he said.

“The disease significantly reduces fruit quality and yields.”

He said the disease was seen as a major threat to Australia’s $500 million banana industry.

What happens next?

NT chief plant health officer Anne Walters said the outbreak had been detected on dwarf cavendish bananas and surveillance to understand the extent of the infestation had started.

“It may well be limited to one or several properties in that [Batchelor] area, or it may be more widespread, so we’re doing a lot of surveillance,” Dr Walters said.

“We have restrictions on the property in question and asked them not to move any plant material or fruit off the property… this restriction is limited to just this property at this stage.”

Dr Walters said it was too early to say whether or not the government would enforce more restrictions or conduct an eradication program.

The NT Farmers Association said it would focus all of its efforts “to help eliminate the spread of the disease and limit its financial impact on farmers”. 

Banana plants buried
NT residents will be hoping not to lose their banana plants again.(Carl Curtain)

Last outbreak cost $26 million 

Australia’s first outbreak of banana freckle on the popular cavendish banana variety happened back in 2013.

It led to a large eradication program that resulted in thousands of banana plants being removed from across the Top End.

The NT’s commercial banana industry was essentially wiped out during the program, meaning NT supermarkets became reliant on banana imports from interstate.

But it was the community anger that perhaps defined the NT’s eradication program, with many residents and business owners feeling the program was poorly communicated and too heavy-handed.  

Authorities are asking NT residents to be on the look out for any signs of banana freckle and report symptoms to the exotic plant pest hotline 1800 084 881.

Get the latest rural news

Posted 31 May 202231 May 2022, updated 31 May 202231 May 2022

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Growers urged to stand firm against new potato blight strain

8th June

By Kathryn DickBusiness Reporter

Share

root crop technical manager, Darryl Shailes

Root crop technical manager, Darryl Shailes

Another unseasonably dry spring may have reduced early blight risk so far, but the prevalence of new, aggressive strains means growers cannot afford to drop their guard, leading agronomy firm Hutchinsons warns.

Much can be learned from the 2021 season, which also started very dry with low blight risk, but quickly turned into a big blight year, the firm’s root crop technical manager Darryl Shailes commented: “It saw many crops carrying significant loading of potato blight, even where the best chemistry was used.”

The weather was a key factor in this turnaround, but it also coincided with an increase in the EU_36_A2 blight strain, which, according to AHDB recording, was prevalent across all but western England last year and dominated infections in eastern counties.

Data from crop protection company Belchim suggests EU_36_A2 has the ability to produce many more spores in a wider range of weather conditions than strains that have previously dominated UK blight populations, such as EU_13_A2 or EU_6_A1.

Read more: Scottish Agronomy conference hears of new late blight strain

Another strain, EU_37_A2 has a similar capacity to 36_A2, and is also resistant to fluazinam, however, confirmed infections have declined with a reduction in the amount of fluazinam used across the industry, leaving it now largely confined to the West and North.

“EU_36_A2 is also out-competing it, which is common in the epidemics of recent seasons, when one strain tends to dominate field infection with very little mixture of genotypes being identified.”

However, he points out that last season’s AHDB monitoring did show an increase in the number of “other” genotypes found in Scotland, suggesting there may be some new, as yet unidentified strains being created by genetic recombination.

Mr Shailes urges growers to consider the changing nature of blight infections when putting together control strategies through the season, particularly as crops go through rapid canopy expansion to full canopy.

“In trials we always see the weakest programmes have the weakest start and cannot be brought back with very robust treatments later in the season. In recent seasons the epidemic has tended to be early in the season when crops are approaching full canopy.

“The strongest option with good systemic activity to protect rapidly growing canopies is benthiavalicarb + oxathiapiprolin. Using it for the third or fourth blight spray, or earlier if necessary, is generally an effective timing, and in high risk situations,” he recommended, adding that growers should reduce the spray interval to seven days from the more normal 10.

“The actives can also play a useful role during any high-risk periods that occur once crops reach the stable canopy phase. However, as with any fungicide programme, product stewardship is vital, so growers should use a range of different actives and alternate modes of action throughout the season.

“There are various options available for different scenarios, so product choice should be discussed with your agronomist and tailored to disease risk, variety and other considerations, such as the need for controlling other diseases, such as Sclerotinia, Botrytis, or Alternaria,” Mr Shailes continued.

He cautions against the overuse of fluazinam, as this has potential to select for the resistant EU_37_A2 blight strain. Fluazinam still controls other blight genotypes so has a useful role to play, but it must be supported by tank mixing other strong blight actives. In addition, fluazinam has an important role to play for Sclerotinia, Alternaria and Botrytis management.

“As always, it is vital to stay on top of any other potential sources of blight infection, notably potato dumps, or volunteers growing in heaps of stones or around the edges of fields. Last year showed wide joins and headlands can often act as infecter sources, much like in a blight trial, thereby exacerbating blight pressure within the crop,” he stated.

With uncertainty over whether there will be any industry Blight Watch type service, Mr Shailes concluded by urging growers and agronomists to sign up to Syngenta’s BlightCast (https://www.syngenta.co.uk/blightcast), to receive email warnings of predicted blight risk in the local area to provide another tool in the proactive defence against blight this season.

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Group aims save ash trees with release of 209 wasps in Pascoag conservation area

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 Editorial team

 –

June 7, 2022

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From left to right are Paul Roselli, president of the Burrillville Land Trust; URI research assistant Saffron Zaniewski, and Alana Russell, manager of the URI Biocontrol Lab.

BURRILLVILLE – With exotic beetles that have the potential to destroy all of the area’s ash trees discovered in four Rhode Island counties, local conservationists and those who study the bugs have taken action.

The Burrillville Land Trust and experts with the University of Rhode Island Biocontrol Lab recently released 209 parasitoid wasps at the Edward Vock Conservation Area in Pascoag in hopes to protect the trees from extinction.

“With the release of these parasitoid wasps, all hope that we save our native ash trees,” said BLT President Paul Roselli.

Roselli took part in the release of the wasps, adult Spathius galinae – which are a parasitoid of the invasive beetle known as the emerald ash borer. The wasps attack the larvae of beetle, and kills them before the can mature.

The beetle reportedly arrived accidentally in the early 1990s in cargo imported from Asia.

The Burrillville conservation area on Jackson Schoolhouse Road has been the sight for much of the research and release of these parasitoid wasps in northwestern Rhode Island. The two other species of parasitoids that were released in past years at the Vock Conservation Area were Tetrastichus planipennisi – another larval parasitoid, released from the small ash bolts hung from the trees – and Oobius agrili – an egg parasitoid, released from the small medicine bottle-looking implements that also hang from trees.

Emerald Ash Borer have been found in four of the five counties in the state, with none of the beetles detected as of yet in Bristol County.

Alana Russell from the URI Biocontrol Lab; URI graduate Saffron Zaniewski, who also works at the lab; and Paul Ricard from URI will be conducting detection trapping in Bristol this year.

One of the first properties where the beetles were detected in 2018 was a second lot owned by the land trust on South Shore Road. The EAB was discovered using a purple prism trap, devices visitors to the area may have noticed high above in the tree canopy. Ricard went back in 2019, girdled trees and collected larvae.

“So far, the trees at the Vock conservation area are still in good condition, given that the first state detections were not far away near Wallum Lake,” Roselli said.

Other sites of interest along Round Top Pond are showing signs of decline due to the EAB infestation, he noted.

“We are hopeful that these little creatures will help save these majestic ash trees from extinction,” said Roselli.

For more information, a forest service brochure on EAB biocontrol and ash regeneration can be found here. Those interested in saving their own trees from the Emerald Ash Borer can also find an article on the beetles from Northern Woodlands here.

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Welcome Wasps: Parasitoids Show Promise for Management of Invasive Fruit Fly

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In Washington state and British Columbia, Canada, two species of wasps from Asia have been found to be successfully parasitizing the invasive fruit fly spotted-wing drosophila (Drosophila suzukii), pictured here. (Photo by Sam R via iNaturalistCC BY-NC 4.0)

By Ed Ricciuti

Ed Ricciuti

It is still too early to say for sure, but North American fruit growers may have caught a big break in their daunting battle against the invasive fruit fly known as spotted-wing drosophila (Drosophila suzukii), which has cost more than $700 million in crop damage annually since its arrival in 2008. The stroke of luck is that two small wasps that parasitize the fly’s larvae in its native Asia have established a beachhead astride the border of British Columbia and Washington state and could serve as natural allies for embattled growers.

A change in scene from its original home has not helped the fly escape the lethal attention of the wasps, Leptopilina japonica and Ganaspis brasiliensis, according to a new study published in May in Environmental EntomologyWithin the area of southwestern British Columbia where the researchers carried out their study, both wasps parasitize the fly at the same level as in their natural Asian range.

A team of scientists from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture, the University of British Columbia, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture collaborated on the study, which explored the associations between spotted-wing drosophila (SWD), its host plants, and the wasps in several habitats. The researchers say “the close association between the two larval parasitoids and D. suzukii that exists in Asia has evidentially been reconstructed in North America, resulting in the highest parasitism levels of D. suzukii yet recorded outside of its area of origin.” Their findings suggest the wasps potentially are an effective biological of SWD around the globe.

“Remarkable,” is the way the researchers describe how the wasps have fit in to the ecology of their introduced range in North America. “They have evidently re-formed a close association with D. suzukii across a wide range of host plants including cultivated and wild shrubs, trees, and low-growing plants in a wide variety of habitats and seem to be co-existing with each other in a manner very similar to their native range,” they write in their journal article.

For an entire growing season, the research team carried out their work in a wide range of habitats, ranging from farmland to forest. Plants used by SWD included both cultivars such as raspberries and wild types such as salmonberry. The study suggests that wild plants serve as a key reservoir for populations of SWD that then disperse to fruit crops so control likely must extend beyond farm fields.

The wasp Ganaspis brasiliensis is one of two species of parasitoid wasp species, native to Asia, that has arrived in Washington state and British Columbia, Canada, and been found to be successfully parasitizing the invasive fruit fly known as spotted-wing drosophila (Drosophila suzukii). (Photo by Matthew L. Buffington, Ph.D., U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Systematic Entomology Laboratory. Image originally published in Buffington and Forshage 2016, Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington)

The United States Department of Agriculture recently approved use of G. brasiliensis as a control agent, with releases planned for this year. L. japonica is under consideration as well. Both wasps have been introduced in a few other parts of the world where SWD also has shown up, but not extensively.

Although it all bodes well for fruit growers, there could be a hitch because the majority of the parasitism observed occurred after SWD infested fruit, says one of the researchers, Paul Abram, PhD., of the federal Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

“We do not yet know exactly how this delay between infestation and parasitism will play out in terms of its effect on biological control efficacy, and we still need to verify that this is a consistent feature of the system in multiple years,” he says. “Theoretically, it can allow the pest to stay one step ahead of the biological control agent as they move between different fruiting plants over the course of the season and start reproducing in a new time and place before the parasitoids’ impact sets in. We are planning experiments for the upcoming field season where we directly test the population dynamics consequences of delayed parasitoid arrival on pest suppression.”

Pest managers must act fast to control SWD, which strikes fruit just as it is about to ripen, unlike other fruit flies that prefer damaged fruit and fruit well past ripening. Worse, SWD hits fruit with a one-two punch: first when the female’s serrated ovipositor penetrates the skin of the fruit and again when the white larvae hatch and start feeding while hidden inside the fruit, impervious to treatment.

Spotted-wing drosophila was introduced in North America in 2008. The parasitoids arrived, presumably by accident, in British Columbia within the past five years or so. Ganaspis brasiliensis was discovered last year in Washington State just over the Canadian border in wild blackberries. Leptopilina japonica showed up in Washington the year before in a trap set to catch the much-ballyhooed hornet Vespa mandarinia. Both probably belong to the same populations north of the border.

Whether the wasps were interacting with SWD in North America as they did in their original home was not previously clear, which was the motivation behind the study. More work is necessary before the full impact of the wasps can be determined. Control of mobile pests like SWD requires management over a large landscape against a known ecological background. Researchers need to learn more about the level of parasitism in and out of cultivated areas and how the wasps interact with the fly’s seasonal ecological relationships and its population dynamics. Beyond that, the ability of the wasps to tolerate climatic conditions outside of the study area is an open question, requiring years of additional sampling to answer.

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Adventive Larval Parasitoids Reconstruct Their Close Association with Spotted-Wing Drosophila in the Invaded North American Range

Environmental Entomology

Ed Ricciuti is a journalist, author, and naturalist who has been writing for more than a half century. His latest book is called Bears in the Backyard: Big Animals, Sprawling Suburbs, and the New Urban Jungle (Countryman Press, June 2014). His assignments have taken him around the world. He specializes in nature, science, conservation issues, and law enforcement. A former curator at the New York Zoological Society, and now at the Wildlife Conservation Society, he may be the only man ever bitten by a coatimundi on Manhattan’s 57th Street.

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Armyworms inactive despite rain, cool front

Bart Dreesbart-drees-fallarmyworm.jpg

Fall armyworms can be devastating to hayfields and pastures due to their appetite for green grass crops.

Texas Crop and Weather Report – June 2, 2022

Adam Russell | Jun 03, 2022

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Texas forage producers are facing high fertilizer prices, but Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service experts do not expect they will face an early outbreak of fall armyworms.

David Kerns, AgriLife Extension state integrated pest management specialist and professor in the Department of Entomology, said recent weather has not created conditions for the early migration of the devastating pest experienced in 2021.

Populations typically build following large rain events and cooler weather. But Kerns said there is no indication that armyworm populations are building in southern areas of the state following recent weather systems that dropped temperatures and delivered moisture.

Fall armyworms’ name is indicative of their active season, but cool, wet weather can trigger outbreaks, Kern said. Populations of armyworms, which are extremely damaging to forage production, typically begin increasing sometime between July and September.

“Fall armyworms typically build up in southeastern Texas, and the moths move northward throughout the eastern half of the state,” he said. “Last year, with all the spring and summer rains, that buildup occurred earlier than usual, but conditions are much drier this year despite the recent storm fronts.”

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No reports of armyworms so far

Fall armyworms are green with brown or black colorations and can be identified by the white inverted Y on their head. They can grow up to 1 inch in length when mature.

The pest got its name because they appear to march army-like across hay fields, consuming the grass in their path.

Armyworm moths can lay up to 2,000 eggs that hatch in two to three days, according to a 2019 report by Allen Knutson, AgriLife Extension entomologist, retired.

Vanessa Corriher-Olson, AgriLife Extension forage specialist, Overton, said there are four to five generations that move throughout the state per growing season. They typically move north from Mexico and South Texas as temperatures warm in the spring. Generations will push further north into midwestern states, but moths and larvae remain present throughout the state.

Drier, hotter conditions slow their life cycles, Corriher-Olson said. Moths lay fewer eggs and caterpillar growth is slowed. But rainfall and cooler temperatures can trigger major infestations when local populations, new hatches and migrating moths descend on areas with quality food sources.

Corriher-Olson said continued drier conditions overall in southern parts of the state are likely to curb any early issues forage producers may have experienced in 2021.

“I have not received any reports or phone calls, and that tells me populations in areas where the armyworm migration begins have not reached any level of concern,” she said.

No problem until there is a problem

Corriher-Olson said producers typically react to fall armyworm outbreaks when they occur, which has led to product availability issues during the pandemic. She noted, however, that she had not received any reports about insecticide shortages to date.

“Many producers take a reactionary approach to armyworms because of the expense,” she said. “Some producers may have products on hand that are left over from last year, but most are going to be monitoring the situation to their south and plan accordingly.”

Kerns said conditions may not be shaping up for armyworms at this point in the forage production season, but producers with Sudan grass, hay grazer and other forages related to sorghum should be on the lookout for sorghum aphids, also known as sugarcane aphids.

While armyworms prefer wetter, cooler weather, sorghum aphids prefer hot, dry conditions, he said. There have been reports of the aphids in grain sorghum fields in South Texas.

Aphids feed on leaves and leave a sap that further damages the plant, and major infestations can greatly impact forage yields.

Corriher-Olson said forage pests like fall armyworms and aphids are always a threat to producers’ bottom lines, but yield losses could magnify their impact on budgets due to higher input costs, especially fertilizer applications.

Many forage producers are forgoing or reducing fertilizer applications, which could impact where infestations build, she said. Fall armyworms will settle on any green pasture, but they prefer lush, fertilized forages.

“Fertilized fields are more at risk to be damaged,” she said. “So, when it comes to armyworms, we don’t want to see a producer spend money to produce quality forage and have armyworms destroy it.”

AgriLife Extension district reporters compiled the following summaries:

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The 12 Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Districts

ROLLING PLAINS

Rainfall amounts were from 1.5-3 inches. The rains helped the soil moisture profile, but more rain was needed to fill stock tanks. There was very little green grass in pastures. Wheat harvest continued in the little bit of wheat worth combining. Yield reports ranged from 3-25 bushels per acre. Supplemental hay feeding of cattle continued.

COASTAL BEND

Southern parts of the area reported showers that produced trace amounts to 2 inches of rain. Crops with irrigation looked good, but dryland producers were concerned about crop losses. Cotton benefitted the most from rain, but more moisture will be needed to see good yields. Corn and grain sorghum were drying down and any moisture would probably only help with the kernel weight. Rangeland and pastures showed a slight color change with rain, but not much growth occurred, and conditions remained poor to fair. Livestock were still in a decline and receiving supplemental feed. Hay supplies were dwindling. More cattle producers were weaning early and culling out poor producing cows. Cattle market prices remained high.

EAST

Recent rains helped, but soils dried quickly. Pasture and rangeland conditions were fair. Subsoil and topsoil conditions were short to adequate. Hay production continued. Yields were much lower than normal as producers reduced fertilizer applications due to higher input costs. Harrison County reported problematic fly populations. Livestock were in fair to good condition.   

SOUTH PLAINS

Producers received another significant rainfall shower this week across the county. Rainfall totals ranged from 0.5 inches to 2 inches. Some large hail was also mixed with the heavier rain. Cooler temperatures helped conditions. Rain was in the forecast. Cotton planting was in full swing with about 80% of acres planted so far. More rain will be needed for decent cotton, corn and sorghum yields. Pumpkin farmers started planting. Cattle were being supplementally fed. The recent rainfall helped pastures a little.

PANHANDLE

Soil moisture conditions were very short to short. Recent rains helped irrigated crops like wheat, corn and cotton some. Earlier planted corn was up and growing, but some silage corn plantings were still on hold. Cotton was already planted or going in, but producers were not optimistic about yields. Rangeland and pasture conditions improved, but much more rain will be needed to sustain a green-up. Overall, rangeland and pasture conditions remained poor, and crop conditions were poor to fair.

NORTH

Soil moisture ranged from adequate to short. Warmer temperatures and higher wind speeds dried up soil moisture. Corn, cotton and soybeans were doing well. Early planted corn was tasseling. The wheat harvest began, and fields looked good. No widespread insect or disease pressure was reported. Pasture and rangeland conditions were fair to good and had improved slightly following recent rainfall. The first hay harvests of Bermuda grass, ryegrass, Bahia grass or oats were cut and rolled without issue this year. This was the first early forage harvest in the past few years not delayed by rainfall or wet conditions. Cattle were in good to excellent condition. Horn and stable flies were increasing significantly, and horseflies and deerflies were worsening. Spring calves appeared to be gaining well. Supplemental feeding continued for livestock and wildlife, and forage quality looked poor. Rainfall will be necessary for continued forage production. Some hay producers were considering transitioning pastures to native forage production due to lack of rain and increased fertilizer costs.

FAR WEST

Weather was variable. A cold front dropped temperatures into the 40s and brought rainfall, hail and dust storms that took visibility to zero, but temperatures quickly returned to the 90s. A very narrow band of storms left trace amounts of rain up to 1.5 inches. Hail damage to farm equipment, barns, trees and residences was severe. Emerged cotton was hailed out. Cotton, especially Pima fields, looked good in other areas. Corn continued to make progress, but heat was starting to take its toll. Melons looked good and were making good progress. Pecan trees were coming along nicely and set a good crop. Some pecan nut casebearer pressure was reported. Alfalfa looked decent. Pastures remained completely bare. Cattle conditions continued to worsen, and some ranchers completed weaning.

WEST CENTRAL

Thunderstorms delivered from 1.5-3 inches of rainfall to most areas. Forages perked up with the moisture, but temperatures in the 90s and windy days could impact moisture retention. Some farmers harvested wheat last week, but yields were poor. Cotton outlooks were looking slim as well. Herd liquidation was slowly happening. Some producers with hay chose to feed through drought, but many were selling off their herds. An ongoing wildfire near Abilene was under control, but not before it burned 10,900 acres.

SOUTHEAST

Heavy rains helped soil moisture levels. Some hay was cut, and rice was fertilized. Forages were growing and producers in several areas cut their first hay crop with no pests reported. Rains slowed crop planting in some areas. Rice planting was not complete. Some areas remained dry and reported declining pasture, rangeland and crop conditions. Rangeland and pastures ranged from very poor to excellent condition. Soil moisture levels were short to surplus.

SOUTHWEST

Some areas received 0.75-3 inches of rain. The rainfall helped alleviate the drought stress for crops that survived to this point. Hot temperatures persisted and pastures looked overgrazed. Wheat and oat harvests were complete with below-average yields reported.  Irrigated corn looked good, and cotton was doing well. Producers eased up on supplemental feeding due to the recent rains, but pasture conditions continued to decline in drier areas. Mesquite spraying was underway. Diet supplementation continued for livestock and wildlife, and forage production looked poor. Irrigated hay fields were in good condition.

SOUTH

Moisture levels in northern areas were very short, while eastern and western areas reported short to adequate soil moisture. Southern areas reported adequate to surplus moisture. Most areas reported rainfall with amounts ranging from 0.3-8 inches. Pastures and rangelands responded well to the moisture. Livestock conditions were improving and producers were decreasing supplemental feed. Cattle prices remained strong. Cattle producers in drier areas continued to provide supplemental feed to maintain body condition scores. Producers who planted hay grazer before the rains were expecting good growth. Significant rain missed croplands in northern parts of the district. Row crops and forages in areas that received rain were expected to improve significantly. Irrigated crops like watermelons, cantaloupes and Bermuda grass looked good. Cotton was expected to respond well to the moisture. Flooding and hail damaged some crops. Hail damaged around 5,000 acres of grain, sesame, sunflowers, watermelons and corn. Sorghum aphid pressure increased, and weeds were becoming an issue as fields were too wet to spray.

Source: is AgriLife TODAY, which is solely responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.

TAGS: FORAGE FALL ARMYWORMS

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