Dümmen Reports Incidences Of TMV In Red Fox Petunia Cuttings From El Salvador Operation

Red-Fox-Logo-dummenGrowers who have received Red Fox brand petunia cuttings from the Dümmen Group’s Las Mercedes, El Salvador stock plant facility should inspect unrooted petunia cuttings and Red Fox petunia plants for any symptoms of tobacco mosaic virus (TMV). Since week 51, Dümmen has sent a series of four letters to customers, detailing incidences of TMV in select petunia mother plants. To find out what to look for and what you should do if you find symptoms, read “Scouting And Preventative Measures For Tobacco Mosaic Virus (TMV) On Petunia.”

In a February 21 letter, the Dümmen Group announced it has been working with its broker partners and customers to identify, test and destroy infected Red Fox petunia cuttings shipped from Las Mercedes. As a result, Dümmen has determined the incidences of the virus exceeded the initial assessment and halted all shipments of Red Fox petunias from Las Mercedes. As of week 8, all supply comes from alternate clean locations.

The letter also announced the Dümmen Group will issue a credit to all North American customers who purchased Red Fox petunias sourced from Las Mercedes and shipped between weeks 51 and 7, regardless of whether cuttings have tested positive for the virus. The El Salvador facility produces more than 20 million Red Fox petunia cuttings annually. Growers should contact their brokers to learn more.

“We strive to grow world-class products of the highest quality and to safely deliver them to our customers,” the letter stated. “Our decision to continue shipping Red Fox petunias from El Salvador fell short of this commitment. We are extremely sorry and apologize for the disruption this has caused our broker partners and customers. Although we know that that the majority of Red Fox petunias were not infected, any incidence is unacceptable and inconsistent with our high standards of quality.”

TMV: How It Started

The Dümmen Group’s General Manager Perry Wismans told Greenhouse Grower that the problem originated at the company’s Las Mercedes facility in El Salvador in week 51, when Dümmen detected TMV in one particular variety, petunia ‘Sweetunia Johnny Flame,’ a bicolor petunia. At that point, Wismans says, Dümmen informed its customers and took the variety off the market. The mother plants were uprooted, along with mother plants in the beds adjacent to the diseased plants.

“Quite frankly, at that point, we thought we had the problem under control,” Wismans says. “We had informed our customers, uprooted the areas affected and moved forward.”

But in week 2, mother plants adjacent to where Dümmen had uprooted plants tested positive for TMV, so the protocol was repeated.

“We took the same steps but to a larger extent that we uprooted about 20 percent of our mother plants, which of course put a hole in our availability and we started to reallocate orders to our production partner, Cohen Nurseries in Israel, and our stock farm in Ethiopia, where we had availability of petunias,” Wismans says.

The plants from Cohen Nurseries, the Red Fox Ethiopia farm and Oro Farms Guatemala have all tested clean, he adds.

“After that, we were confident we had the situation under control [in El Salvador]. But it turned out we did not as we got reports that our customers were finding cuttings with TMV,” Wismans says. “At that point, by the end of week 7, we decided to stop shipping petunias 100 percent out of Las Mercedes and reallocate all production to Cohen Nurseries, Red Fox Ethiopia and Oro Farms Guatemala.”

Petunias account for about 15 percent of spring production at the Las Mercedes facility, where it produces more than 200 million cuttings of spring annuals, which are located in separate greenhouses. While petunia is a significant crop there, the facility continues to produce other spring annuals. By now, all petunias at the facility have been uprooted and destroyed, Wismans says.

Recommendations For Handling Red Fox Petunias From El Salvador

For any growers who still have unrooted Red Fox petunia cuttings that have been shipped from Dümmen’s Las Mercedes, El Salvador facility, Wismans says Dümmen recommends those cuttings be thrown away and that growers try to find new product, either unrooted or rooted cuttings. Dümmen and its broker partners will work with customers to do this.

“Now when people decide to destroy those cuttings on the rooting bench, they are sourcing on the market for rooted material with the help of the brokers, so what we do is help them in doing that,” Wismans says. “Dümmen has discussed with our broker partners how to deal with price differences.”

To growers who decide to continue with their Red Fox petunia cuttings from El Salvador, Dümmen recommends scouting and monitoring those plants for any evidence of TMV symptoms. See “Scouting And Preventative Measures For Tobacco Mosaic Virus (TMV) On Petunia” for information on what symptoms to look for and how to scout for TMV, or visit Dümmen’s website for more information.

“Once a plant is affected, that plant cannot be cured,” Wismans says. “That’s why we say when you can and you have not transplanted it, we absolutely recommend that you throw those young plants away. However, sometimes people have already transplanted them and they’re in baskets. It’s not like 100 percent of our cuttings have TMV — the majority of the cuttings are not infected. And some of those plants are already close to finish. So then you want to go out and look at the plants and scout for those diseased plants and pick those out and throw them away and ship what is good.”

Because TMV is contagious and transfers through mechanical handling, the disease can spread to healthy cuttings. But the milk solution detailed in the handling protocol will isolate the virus particle and keep it from spreading. Dümmen recommends that growers who have already rooted their Red Fox petunias and plan to keep them and continue monitoring their crop should spray the milk solution when working with the crop, during spacing and other functions, Wismans says. The incubation period for the virus is such that if a finished plant does not show the symptoms, it most likely does not have the virus.

“That is more for the people who have decided they want to keep on going with the crop, who are further in the process,” Wismans says. “At this point, we are just in peak shipping, so most people are replacing their cuttings with healthy material, either cuttings or rooted liners.”

Dümmen Is Working To Prevent Future Outbreaks

“This is the first time a disease of this magnitude has hit our organization,” Wismans says. “You always think your protocols are good enough. They always worked in the past. Obviously now, in hindsight, they should have been different.”

The Dümmen Group is taking measures at its Las Mercedes facility to step up sanitary protocols and prevent future disease issues, including reducing the size of production compartments within each greenhouse, Wismans says.

“Our farm is very big with large compartments, which means if you have an infection in the compartment, it immediately has a large impact on the production,” he says. “Next year, the size of the existing compartment we have now will become eight different compartments. All of those compartments will be self-sufficient so they will have their own clothing, their own knives and their own disinfectant. Nothing will switch between those compartments. And further, we will establish these compartments with concrete floors so we can bring it to a much higher standard.”

Wismans says the Dümmen Group is sorry for any problems that the TMV issue has caused, and he hopes the Dümmen Group’s willingness to face the problem head on, communicate with customers and provide a general credit for all Red Fox petunia cuttings from El Salvador will help the industry through this challenge.

“Most of all we [want growers to know we] are very sorry that this happened to them,” Wismans says. “We know that it has had an impact on their businesses and we are aware of that. It’s not what we want, or what we stand for as a company and at this time we are doing everything to limit the damages for our customers.

“We built up a reputation the last 15 years in the U.S. of being a very reliable supplier and being clean and having good order fill. The incident is very unfortunate, but we want to stay shoulder to shoulder with our customers to overcome this.”

Topics: , ,

Leave a Reply

More From Crop Inputs...

March 4, 2015

Nexus Corporation’s Cheryl Longtin Encourages Women To Seek Volunteer Leadership Opportunities

When Cheryl Longtin came to the horticulture business in 1994, she applied her experience in the automotive industry to promote the adoption of more technology in greenhouse production. Longtin says horticulture, with its rich family tradition, has long promoted women in the industry compared to other industries, but women in horticulture must continue to seek out opportunities to provide volunteer leadership in organizations that shape the future of the business.

Read More

March 4, 2015

Second Annual GreenhouseConnect Will Bring Growers and Suppliers Together in San Diego This October

Following a successful inaugural event in Tampa last fall, Greenhouse Grower has announced the dates of its second annual GreenhouseConnect: October 26-29, 2015. Representatives of an expected two dozen leading greenhouse operations from across the U.S. will join senior-level suppliers at Rancho Bernardo Inn in San Diego for several days of one-on-one strategic meetings, a growers-only roundtable, informational sessions and a variety of networking events.

Read More
cultivate'15 logo

March 4, 2015

Cultivate’15: AmericanHort Announces What’s New

In an industry that has seen major changes occurring at a fast pace, many industry professionals leave Cultivate with their heads spinning and no clear idea of how to regroup and strategize. Cultivate’15 is “Changing the Game.” As this year’s focus, Changing the Game will call your attention to the ways in which our industry has changed and your opportunities to compete successfully.

Read More
Latest Stories
Rose Rosette on Knockout rose, May 2013. Photo credit: Alan Windham, University of Tennessee

March 2, 2015

Rose Rosette Disease Fight Gets A Boost From Government…

In 2014, $4.6 million was awarded through the Farm Bill to tackle rose rosette disease, a devastating pathogen that affects one of the industry’s most important crops.

Read More
Fig 1 Leafy Gall On Leucanthemum Becky

March 2, 2015

How To Prevent Leafy Gall Before You Lose Plants

Leafy gall is a nasty disease that can go undetected until plant damage is done. Take these steps to protect your crops from infection.

Read More

February 17, 2015

A New Look At Biological Control: Can Plants Affect The…

The success of a biological control program depends on a number of factors including quality of natural enemies, timing of release, release rates and environmental conditions. However, what is typically not taken into consideration is how plants can affect the performance of natural enemies, including attack rate and searching ability. Biological control agents work hard to protect plants, but plants have ways to help themselves, too.

Read More

February 1, 2015

New Pest Control Products For Your Toolbox

Add one of these new insecticides to your IPM program for successful pest control.

Read More
IR-4_profile_Feb2015

January 29, 2015

IR-4: A Pest Management Resource For Growers

Almost 40 years ago, IR-4 (Interregional Research Project Number 4) began serving the ornamental horticulture industry, helping to facilitate the registration of pest management tools. IR-4 does this primarily by surveying growers about their pest management issues and then hosting workshops to review survey results and set priorities for the coming years. Most recently, IR-4 coordinated a meeting of researchers and industry members on pollinator health and neonicotinoid chemistries to start a discussion on the needed research. The next step will be to get the outcomes from that workshop out to the public.

Read More

January 28, 2015

Biocontrols 2015 Conference & Tradeshow: Peace Tree…

Lloyd Traven, a speaker at the upcoming Biocontrols 2015 Conference & Tradeshow, was one of the industry’s early adopters of biocontrols in the greenhouse. Traven, owner of Peace Tree Farm, is evangelical about the technology as an effective tool for resistance management, as well as improved plant quality that contributes to a grower’s bottom line.

Read More

January 27, 2015

Southwest Perennials Improves Production, Shortens Crop…

A father-and-son team find LEDs deliver a higher rooting rate for cuttings propagated under the lights.

Read More
Wainwright-web-620x349

January 22, 2015

Quality Control With Biocontrols

Make sure the shipment of beneficials that just arrived is viable and ready to go to work in your greenhouse, nursery, or field. Here are five steps you can take to ensure success with your biocontrols.

Read More

January 9, 2015

6 New Fertilizer Products For Healthy Plants

These five products add even more options for delivering nutrients to the root zone.

Read More

January 7, 2015

Fertilizers And The Future

As growers look for new ways to cut costs and conserve resources, fertilizer and equipment companies are offering products that strive to save water, reduce toxic runoff and keep chemicals out of the equation.

Read More

December 31, 2014

Gain Greater Control Of Fertilizer With Automated Ferti…

University researchers look at integrating irrigation and fertilization with the help of water sensors to reduce fertilizer treatments and improve application timing.

Read More
As directed by EPA, the bee hazard icon appears in the Directions For Use for each application site for specific use restrictions and instructions to protect bee and other pollinators.

December 9, 2014

Fact Sheet: The Value Of Neonicotinoids To Turf And Orn…

An extensive study of the diverse turf and ornamental industry (“The Green Industry”) reveals that neonicotinoids are the top-rated products used by professionals to control their most important pests in greenhouses, landscapes, lawns, nurseries and trees.

Read More
As directed by EPA, the bee hazard icon appears in the Directions For Use for each application site for specific use restrictions and instructions to protect bee and other pollinators.

December 9, 2014

New Study Finds Neonicotinoids Are Top-Rated Products F…

According to results of a survey by AgInfomatics, professionals in the turf and ornamental industries fear the loss of neonicotinoid products would reduce the quality of their plants and services, increase costs and negatively impact their ability to manage pest resistance.

Read More

December 2, 2014

Grow-Tech Announces BioStrate, Its Newest Hydroponic Gr…

Grow-Tech LLC recently announced the release of BioStrate Felt, a biobased textile specifically engineered for the growing of hydroponic microgreens and baby salad greens.

Read More

November 25, 2014

Former Harris Seeds Co. CEO, Per Jensen, Passes At 85

A passion for plants defined long-time industry influencer.

Read More

November 21, 2014

Ramped-Up Predatory Mite Production To Benefit Growers

Biological pest control company Beneficial Insectary is now producing both Amblyseius (=Neoseiulus) cucumeris and Stratiolaelaps scimitus (formerly Hypoaspis miles) at its facility in California. Domestic production in the U.S. is now benefiting growers in North America by reducing the transit time of perishable predatory mites between producer and grower.

Read More

November 18, 2014

7 New Media And Light Products For Greenhouse Productio…

New media and light products cover a broad sweep of growing conditions.

Read More

November 14, 2014

Skagit Gardens To Eliminate Use Of Neonicotinoid Pestic…

Skagit Gardens, a wholesale grower located outside Mount Vernon, Wash., will eliminate all use of neonicotinoid pesticides beginning in January 2015.

Read More