In a December 16 letter to its customers, Dümmen Orange said it had encountered an issue in its El Salvador-based Las Mercedes production facility, where Xanthomonas, or bacterial leaf spot, had been confirmed in begonia production. The breeder has been collecting data on the issue from the farm and a random selection of customers who have received product to be able to understand the extent of the situation and corroborate what it had seen on the farms. The company said it wanted to assess and fully understand the situation prior to communicating with its full customer list to be able to decide on the best course of action.
The current situation is that 2% of Dümmen Orange’s total begonia stock production was infected by Xanthomonas, according to the letter.
“While this material and that surrounding it have been destroyed and removed from the premises, there is still a potential risk due to this low level of exposure that some of the remaining stock plants could be infected but asymptomatic. While this risk is low, this does not align with our mission to supply 100% clean product to you,” the letter stated.
Dümmen Orange said its obligation is to inform its customers about an issue that could compromise the integrity of its product as early as possible so customers can react accordingly, and make other arrangements for replacement product as necessary.
Dümmen Orange will cease further begonia supply to the market to eliminate any potential risk to its customers. Meanwhile, the breeder has already shipped Week 51 unrooted cuttings orders, and is asking growers to discard those Week 51 unrooted begonia cuttings orders upon receipt. Conversely, Week 51 rooted cuttings orders and Week 52 unrooted cuttings orders have not been shipped yet, and Dümmen Orange says it will cancel and remove those orders prior to invoicing.
“Customers who have already received product that appears compromised or [who] are uncomfortable keeping [product] due to this report are asked to issue a claim with their broker representative,” the letter states. “Customers who have been impacted by this in either past and/or future orders will receive a discount off any alternate genera substitutions they book from El Salvador.” They should reach out to their broker representatives for more details, the breeder states.
Some growers have requested to continue to receive their begonia shipments, as they intend to manage the potential risk under a strict scouting and preventative care program. In these specific cases, Dümmen Orange plans to maintain some of its begonia production for those growers, and work closely with them to manage their crops, according to the letter.
Stopping Disease at the Source
Dümmen Orange assures its customers that it has not and will not intentionally ship infected cuttings.
“This incident represents a relatively low risk to the market and this particular bacterial leaf spot only affects begonia,” the company states. “We are ceasing future shipments because we commit to a standard of excellence to supply clean product to our partners that disallows shipment of product at risk, regardless of the level.”
The letter from Dümmen Orange closes with an apology to its customers, saying it is “committed to continue to work tirelessly to meet the highest level of production standards.”
Stay tuned to GreenhouseGrower.com for follow up on this issue.
Information Guide for Xanthamonas
Young plant grower and begonia expert, Plantpeddler, has issued an information sheet to provide guidelines on Xanthomonas Bacterial Leaf Spot in Begonias. The guidelines include symptoms to look for while scouting, information on how to take immediate action to rogue out plants that are identified with the disease, cultural management practices, irrigation practices and water management, and preventative bactericide treatments.