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Gujarat’s saffron mangoes attacked by mystery fungus 

Gujarat’s saffron mangoes attacked by mystery fungus
Photo: News 18

The famed saffron variety of mangoes of India’s Gujarat State is being affected by an unknown disease that is causing mangoes to fall from trees in several orchards. Hopes were high for a good crop after orchards entered into full bloom this season, despite unseasonal rains. That was until crops were infected with a white fungus in Gir and surrounding areas. According to one horticulture official, spraying can eradicate the white fungus but it was not enough to save much of this year’s crop.

One farmer named Jesingbhai Chauhan told News18: “We have been preserving the saffron orchard for years. In the last 15 to 20 years, this year has been the worst. The saffron husk does not rest on the tree for a longer time and falls down very easily. The situation is serious as the production of raw mangoes is declining.”

Another farmer said, “Due to the disease, around 50 per cent of the crop has gone. The conditions of farmers is bad. Mangos are being infected with four or five diseases simultaneously.”

Chemicals are also being used, but no satisfactory results yet been achieve and the prices of mangoes are certain to rise.


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CGC calls on EU to do more to fight black spot

Valencian citrus association CGC has demanded radical EU measures to combat negra black spot after 2,000ha were found to be infected in Tunisia. The area in Nabeul (Tunisia), the first in the Mediterranean, demonstrates how the dangerous fungus adapts to our climate. According to the CGC, this should force the EC to rectify and include this pathogen in the list of priority pests. Given the seriousness of the threat and the fifth port interception, the CGC demands that European imports from Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina and South Africa be suspended as the pathogen is endemic in these countries.

Contrary to what was previously believed, the ‘black spot’ has now been shown that is does adapt to the Mediterranean climate. In fact, the European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organisation (EPPO) today issued an alert confirming that the Tunisian authorities have officially declared an area infected by this fungus. In the opinion of the Citrus Management Committee (CGC), the association that represents the main private exporters in the country, the finding should force the European Commission (EC) to take immediate measures and take a “radical shift” to raise the level of regulation requirements for citrus fruit arriving from the main supplier countries to the EU.


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US researchers study fungus to combat Fusarium wilt


Fungus might provide the solution to a disease that strikes tomatoes. Scientists from the University of Florida are working on this method as a means to help control Fusarium wilt. Tomatoes represent Florida’s main vegetable crop, with 28,000 acres commercially harvested in 2017, worth US$262 million. Funded by a three-year grant from the USDA, associate professor of plant pathology, Gary Vallad, is working with colleagues from other universities to develop an approach using a fungus called trichoderma to combat Fusarium wilt. It is hoped that the trichoderma could eventually replace chemical pest-management methods currently used to fight the disease.

Trichoderma fungi can be found in soil and on plants have previously been used biological control agents in agriculture. Other researchers have tried and failed to use trichoderma as a means of controlling pathogens. However, this current research is intended to develop an understanding of what factors limit the fungus’ benefits as a biological control agent. The focus is on tomato production in Florida, Maryland and Pennsylvania.