Help Wanted: Geranium Growers

Scientists at the University of Toledo (UT) are looking for geranium growers to participate in a study using a revolutionary new test to screen for Xanthomonas, the swift-moving bacterial blight that can wipe out an entire crop.

The work was funded through a USDA Agricultural Research Service cooperative agreement. Dr. Shulu Zhang of Louisiana State University managed the project while he was at UT’s Plant Science Research Center along with Dr. Stephen Goldman of UT and Dr. R.V. Sairam at Penn State University. Grower Bill Bettinger of Toledo also supported the project.

The scientists have developed a rapid, reliable test that is specific to 53 strains of Xanthomonas campestris pv. pelargonii (Xcp) but not to 46 other Xanthomonas species. Using Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) technology, the test detects a gene to signal the presence of XCP and then scores infection based on symptom severity. The test defines the presence of bacteria prior to the onset of symptoms and can assist in selecting resistant plants, which would have a negative PCR. A low PCR signal with mild symptoms would indicate disease tolerance.

From the grower’s point of view, Bettinger says this revolutionary test is a godsend. He’s eager to make it available to growers. “It’s an incredible project that has been in the works for three years,” he says. “We’ve all lived through the repercussions of Xanthomonas. With bacterial diseases, you want to know before the guy down the street knows. Growers don’t sleep if the crop looks bacterial but they’re not sure. It’s so hard to confirm. You want to get eradication and need to know now. You can’t lay awake 10 days to two weeks waiting for test results. If we can get a system to test for bacterial problems that’s fast, growers can sleep at night.”

Ideally, both the supplier and the receiving grower would profit enormously from a rapid, reliable test for Xcp, Goldman says. “This test would allow the supplier to warrant that his material is free from infection prior to shipment, and the receiver to warrant that the material is likewise bacteria free upon receipt. The opportunity should be explored to use the availability of this technology to assist in breeding for resistance to Xanthomonas in geraniums.” The same technology might in theory be applied to other solanacea crops, like potatoes, he adds.

According to USDA’s Floriculture Crops Survey, geraniums represented $300 million in wholesale plant sales in 2006. Xcp is the most destructive disease for geraniums, especially zonal geraniums. “Typical losses resulting from blight have averaged between 10 and 15 percent,” Goldman says. “This number, however, to the greenhouse industry is deceptive. Infections are known to have run rampant in individual greenhouses and can cause up to 100 percent loss in geraniums.”

Both Goldman and Bettinger say geranium breeding companies have expressed interest in the technology. The next step is to get growers to try the test in their operations. “In order for the grower to determine whether the plant material he receives from his supplier is clean with respect to Xanthomonas infection, a sampling protocol needs to be developed and the grower confident that the material sent for testing will receive a definitive answer,” Goldman says. “In order to do this effectively, we will need grower participation in a voluntary sampling study.”

Interested in being part of the sampling study? Goldman and Bettinger are looking for geranium growers. Contact Stephen Goldman at 419-277-0290, [email protected], or Bill Bettinger at 419-861-8608.

Leave a Reply

More From Disease Control...

March 20, 2017

AgBiome’s New Zio Biofungicide Receives EPA Registration

The new biofungicide is the first product from AgBiome, and will be marketed by SePRO Corp. in the ornamentals market.

Read More

February 26, 2017

AgBiome Will Enter the Ornamentals Market With a New Biological Fungicide

AgBiome, a young company with teammates steeped in decades of experience in the crop protection world, sees an opportunity to bring products to market that fill the existing gaps in plant protection. The company has partnered with SePRO to market and distribute Zio, a biological fungicide expecting EPA registration this spring.

Read More
Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus on Osteospormum

February 23, 2017

4 Pathogens to Prepare For in 2017

Early detection of disease and virus symptoms in the greenhouse is critical. One expert says there are a few pathogens in particular that growers should be monitoring.

Read More
Latest Stories

March 20, 2017

AgBiome’s New Zio Biofungicide Receives EPA Regis…

The new biofungicide is the first product from AgBiome, and will be marketed by SePRO Corp. in the ornamentals market.

Read More

February 26, 2017

AgBiome Will Enter the Ornamentals Market With a New Bi…

AgBiome, a young company with teammates steeped in decades of experience in the crop protection world, sees an opportunity to bring products to market that fill the existing gaps in plant protection. The company has partnered with SePRO to market and distribute Zio, a biological fungicide expecting EPA registration this spring.

Read More
Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus on Osteospormum

February 23, 2017

4 Pathogens to Prepare For in 2017

Early detection of disease and virus symptoms in the greenhouse is critical. One expert says there are a few pathogens in particular that growers should be monitoring.

Read More
Boxwood Blight

February 7, 2017

Boxwood Blight Detection in Illinois Has Growers on Ale…

Symptoms of boxwood blight, which can spread quickly in production facilities, include leaf spots, stem cankers, and defoliation.

Read More
downy-mildew-impatiens-feature

December 24, 2016

How Agronomic Programs Can Help You Successfully Manage…

To prevent problems before they start, make an agronomic program an essential part of your production plan.

Read More

December 19, 2016

Funding Allocated for Several Horticulture Pest Researc…

The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has allocated millions in funding to research plant pests such as boxwood blight, downy mildew, and phytophthora.

Read More
Phytophthora On Poinsettia

November 23, 2016

Tips On How To Prevent Aerial Blight Spread In Poinsett…

According to Michigan State University experts, certain species of the pathogen Phytophthora, which is typically thought of as a root rot, can also cause issues above-ground.

Read More
eric smith Biosafe

October 13, 2016

BioSafe’s New Hort Sales Rep Says Water Regulation And …

Eric Smith, BioSafe Systems’ New Horticultural Technical Sales Representative, has several years of experience that he says will help him when working with growers on critical issues facing them.

Read More
Downy mildew lesions on light coleus cultivars feature

October 4, 2016

Crop Protection Manufacturers Detail 2017 Early Order D…

Greenhouse Grower asked crop protection product manufacturers to send us the details for their 2017 Early Order Discount Programs and ongoing rebate programs, to provide you with a compiled knowledge resource of all discount offers at a time when you're making decisions for 2017.

Read More
tomato spotted wilt virus angular-necrosis-of-leaves-and-plant-stunting

September 28, 2016

Tips For Managing Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus In Mums

According to a report from Michigan State University, symptoms of tomato spotted wilt virus on chrysanthemum include yellow blotching and rings, necrotic lesions, and stem collapse.

Read More
Leaf Septoria In Cannabis

August 21, 2016

Three Diseases To Watch For In Cannabis Production

The development of root rot, powdery mildew, and leaf septoria can damage cannabis to the point of complete crop loss.

Read More
Downy mildew lesions on light coleus cultivars feature

August 12, 2016

How You Can Control Downy Mildew In Coleus, Roses, And …

Downy mildew diseases are potentially devastating to ornamental crops and at the very least can cause unsightly damage. Check out the latest research and recommendations for preventing it.

Read More
BASF Orkestra Intrinsic

June 21, 2016

New Mode Of Action From BASF Offers Deeper Disease Cont…

When it comes to disease control, you need all the help you can get. BASF recently hosted growers, Extension personnel, and trade media to present its newest fungicide with two active ingredients, offering dual modes of action.

Read More
Triathlon BA container shot

May 24, 2016

OHP’s Triathlon Biofungicide Now Listed By The Organic …

Triathlon BA is a broad-spectrum preventative biofungicide that provides control of many foliar and soilborne diseases in ornamentals and herbs.

Read More
Pythium On Chrysanthemum

May 20, 2016

How To Prevent Pythium In Fall Garden Mums

Avoid profit loss in fall garden mums due to pythium root rot with good drainage and integrated pest management practices that reduce risk factors.

Read More

April 28, 2016

Holistic, Integrated Approach To Pest Control Rooted In…

Greenhouse growers have been practicing integrated pest management for decades, but it’s becoming increasingly more important with the continued scrutiny of conventional pest control by a number of “regulators” — government, retail, and consumers. I just returned from Meister Media Worldwide’s Biocontrols USA 2016 Conference, in Monterey, CA, at the beginning of March this year, which served 450 attendees and 50 exhibiting supplier companies. It’s clear from the presentations and the growing attendance at this specialized event — now only in its second year — that use of biocontrols in IPM will continue to be adopted widely, as more growers get past their personal hurdles of doubt and intimidation, and embrace a new way to approach pest and disease control. Many growers think of using biocontrols as an all-or-nothing approach, but ultimately, IPM is about balance. Growers will need to continue to focus on IPM, integrating chemistry with biology, because […]

Read More
Black Root Rot on Vinca

March 15, 2016

How To Identify Different Root Rots In The Greenhouse

Root rots can cause similar symptoms on hosts. Here are some tips for scouting in your greenhouse.

Read More
One symptom of Botrytis blight is gray, fuzzy sporulation on foliage and flowers, similar to that shown on the flower of this hibiscus

March 11, 2016

Manage Botrytis With These Cultural And Fungicide Contr…

High relative humidity and low temperatures in the greenhouse open the way for Botrytis to develop on plants. A mix of cultural and fungicide control options will help you manage this common disease effectively.

Read More