The nature of vegetative propagation and a distribution system that now touches all corners of the world has increased the likelihood of viruses having an impact at your greenhouses. There are, however, ways to detect and emerging methods developing to combat them. Deborah Mathews at the University of California Riverside, will discuss some of those methods at the 25th annual Pest Management Conference next month, and she recently shared a few thoughts on her topic.
How concerned should growers be about viruses today?
“Viruses and viroids pose an often overlooked threat to the ornamental plant industry. Many times, the infections cause no symptoms in their hosts. But with the transport of tissue culture products, cuttings and whole plants around the world, the introduction of new pathogens, as well as known pathogens to new geographic locations, occurs frequently.
“There have been several quarantine events in the United States in the last few years due to imported virus diseases that caused growers losses in time and money. There are several emerging virus and viroid diseases in Europe that are gaining attention here in the United States, and if and when they arrive here, they will cause problems. Some of these pathogens don’t cause too much damage to their original ornamental hosts, but they do cause major symptoms in other ornamental hosts grown in the same location or crops such as tomatoes and potatoes, industries with well organized commodity boards that can influence government regulatory decisions.”
What can Pest Management attendees expect from your presentation?
“Last year at SAF there were no talks on viruses, so I will start with the basics and then move on from there. I will give an introduction to virus and viroid diseases, what types of symptoms to look for, proper hygiene and testing protocols, and then discuss quarantine issues and emerging threats.”
What are some of the benefits of attending the conference for you?
“I attended SAF (Pest Management Conference) for the first time last year as an educational experience. Since my main expertise has always been with viruses and viroids, I enjoy learning about the more common fungal and bacterial pathogens and problems that I should be aware of to help serve my clients in California.
“I have only been in the Cooperative Extension system for a little over a year now and find these types of meetings to be a good investment of my time. I also look forward to meeting colleagues in the ornamental industry to help me build an information network to advance my program at UC Riverside.”
Mathews is scheduled to present on viruses and viroids from 11:30-12 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 21. The conference takes place from Feb. 19-21 in San Jose, Calif.
For more information on Pest Management Conference, presented by Society of American Florists and Greenhouse Grower, visit www.pestconference.org.