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December 2019 / January 2020

The Polyphagous Shot Hole Borer – Hortgro is Proactive

SA Fruit Journal: December 2019 / January 2020

Hortgro is in the final stages of securing fund-ing for a new research project that will look at the ability of the fungus carried by the polyphagous shot hole borer (PSHB) beetle to infect deciduous fruit trees, as well as common windbreak tree species. The PSHB, with its deadly fungus (Fusarium euwallaceae) has already created widespread havoc among trees in Gauteng and was observed in the Western Cape earlier this year. A chemical, which proved to be effective in fighting the beetle, was recently registered by Pan African Farms. However, experts have warned that objective, independent research must be done before it can be officially confirmed as a solution. Over the past few months, Hortgro has been approached by concerned producers about the infection risks associated with the PSHB, following the discovery of the beetle in Somerset West. Although there is currently no sign of the beetle in deciduous fruit orchards, its proximity is making producers uncomfortable – rightfully so. Matthew Addison, crop protection manager at Hortgro Science, the deciduous fruit industry’s re-search unit, views the infection risk in a serious light. “The reality is that there are a lot of questions and we don’t have the answers; that
alone necessitates research.” Addison says there is a risk for the deciduous fruit industry linked to the beetle’s distribution.
“The research we are going to do will be coordinated at a national level between provinces, with different universities, as well as the government.”

The polyphagous shot hole borer that is threatening local trees.

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