This week the Dutch greenhouses will open their doors again for the public. For the annual event 'Get into the Greenhouse', almost 200 growers will welcome thousands of visitors. This year though almost all tomato greenhouses will remain closed. The reason: ToBRFV. The virus has been found in the Netherlands as well, although its findings have not been officially confirmed.
The emergence of ToBRFV (Tomato Brown Rugose Fruit Virus) on growing sites all over the world worries the industry. Ever since the virus was found in 2014 in Israel, it has spread as far as Jordan, Sicily, California, and Mexico.
At least two ToBRFV infections have been detected in the Netherlands. Because the virus does not have a quarantine organism status, reporting this to the Netherlands food and consumer product safety authority (NVWA), for example, is not mandatory. In their updates, the NVWA still talks of a "possible find in the Netherlands". In addition, they will not impose any measures.
Clean-up: bad option
“The most important reason for this is that the chance of eradicating the virus is considered small. ToBRFV is a very virulent virus that spreads quickly through contact. To actively combat the virus, companies would have to cease cultivation, while there is a high chance that the virus will have infected new companies by then. In addition, there is a relatively high chance that the virus will remain in the greenhouse and the new cultivation will be infected afterwards. It is still unclear how much damage the virus is causing. It is also reported that the symptoms vary between tomato cultivars," writes the NVWA.
There is also a lot of international attention for the virus. Both growers who grow in the soil and hydroponic growers have to deal with the consequences. A meeting with 150 growers was recently held in Mexico to inform growers about this. Here too, hygiene is the most important motto.
In Israel, where the virus has been around for some time, growers are switching to shorter tomato crops. The virus, which, according to the growers there, ended up in Israeli horticulture through Dutch seeds, has been spread further through soil machines. Israeli growers told us that because the soil in which cultivation takes place ensures continuous recontamination, it is waiting for resistant varieties. Until then, growers with several shorter crops try to limit the consequences in a year.
Growers want more clarity
The lack of clarity about the virus causes frustration among Dutch growers. They would like to get more clarity about the exact status of the infections in the Netherlands. "For example, I would like to know who has been infected, although I also understand that this is sensitive, in particular with regard to sales," says a grower.
Update pepper growers Horticulture Alert
The latest news from TuinbouwAlert, the joint venture that deals with the virus, comes from tomato growers on March 21, when a hygiene protocol for ToBRFV and Clavibacter was distributed. Another update for bell pepper growers was distributed this week. "As far as we know now, there have been no breakthroughs in resistance in peppers and peppers produced in the Netherlands." However, the NVWA does indicate that during the annual regular survey among tomato and pepper growers, the presence of ToBRFV will be actively monitored.
Until varieties are developed with resistance to ToBRFV, hygiene seems to be key. "Prevention is the best defence for ToBRFV", we published earlier.