A virus inflicting tomatoes that has spread from Israel to Europe and North America in the last five years is showing no signs of stopping, especially in warm climate tomato production areas. The Tomato Brown Rugose Fruit Virus (ToBRFV) causes yellow to brown colored wrinkled, necrotic spots on the fruit. It is seed borne and reportedly can be spread from plant to plant mechanically during production. Countries already affected are launching research programs and trials to try and overcome the virus, while some countries without the virus have implemented stricter import regulations on tomato and pepper seeds.
Control of viruses has never been easy. One of the problems with ToBRFV is that it is highly contagious, and the research to date has not found the causal agent. However, industry professionals point out that the there are ways in which to help control the spread of the virus. Sanitation in all areas is the key they say, especially in controlled greenhouse environments. Anything that comes into contact with an infected plant, can then spread the virus to other plants.
"At Cardinal Fresh, after many years of research, we have developed a decontamination chamber that will provide a kill step for this virus as well as any other pathogens," said Helmut Lalli, agronomist and CEO of Cardinal Fresh. "It is based on several well-known and developed technologies. The chamber can accommodate picking carts, picking boxes, knives and utensils used for pruning, clothing - basically anything that enters the greenhouse or nursery, every day. We can even sanitize infected plant material, grow slabs waste soil mix and so forth. The container is large enough to disinfect a significant amount of product on a nightly basis, sanitizing everything inside to make it ready for a clean start the next day. We know it also works on sanitizing seeds, in the case that the virus or any other microbe is found on the seed surface."
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