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Intervention after finding root knot nematode in Dutch greenhouse

Once again, the tropical root-knot nematode Meloidogyne enterolobii has been found in a Dutch greenhouse. The Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) reports that it intervened last month and ordered the destruction of a batch of Ficus microcarpa at a nursery.

It is the fourth time this year that the NVWA has had to impose measures. Early this year, Meloidogyne enterolobii was also found on Ficus microcarpa in three greenhouses of other companies.

Q status
Meloidogyne enterolobii has had quarantine status in the European Union (EU) since 11 April 2022. Member states are required to take measures to eradicate this nematode and prevent its further spread. The nematode can cause major damage to many crops, including important economic crops in the EU such as tomato, sweet pepper, cucumber, and potato crops.

The NVWA has been warning the ornamentals sector about the risks of this nematode for some time. It is very important that entrepreneurs take responsibility and take measures to prevent infection and spread, the authority said.

Mandatory measures
The NVWA recently reiterated the sector's responsibility at an information meeting for growers of Ficus microcarpa and explained what measures are imposed following a finding of Meloidogyne enterolobii. The nematode cannot be controlled in the crop during cultivation.

Businesses where the nematode is found are therefore obliged to take measures. All risk-bearing parts, such as roots of infected batches and all other batches of plants in the same watering system, must be removed and destroyed. Subsequently, the cultivation system and watering system must be cleaned and disinfected. For plants such as Ficus microcarpa, this means destroying the entire plant. This is the only reliable method for eradication of the nematode, according to the NVWA.

Measures for all plants with roots
These measures are not only mandatory when the nematode is found on Ficus microcarpa. Meloidogyne enterolobii has very many host plants, and new host plants are regularly reported. The EU requirements for third countries, therefore, apply to all rooted plants. Therefore, the same measures are imposed on all rooted plants whenever they are found.

As of 11 January, stricter requirements apply to all rooted plants when imported. To limit new nematode introduction, import inspections will be expanded. Import inspections and continued import inspections (phyto-monitoring imports) will be expanded to include 14 risk crops and 5 third countries.

In addition to Ficus and Philodendron from China and Costa Rica, the following crops are now additionally monitored: Amaranthus, Caladium, Callistemon, Chlorophytum, Colocasia, Fraxinus, Gardenia, Hibiscus, Ligustrum, Portulacaria, Sageretia, Synchonium, Xanthosoma and Zelkova. Originating from the following countries: Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Thailand, and the United States.

In addition, the NVWA, in cooperation with Naktuinbouw, will start a survey this week to map the presence of Meloidogyne enterolobii on Dutch farms. These inspections will initially focus on farms growing Ficus microcarpa. On these farms, the focus of the survey will be on Ficus microcarpa and the other crops mentioned above, but other plants will also be inspected for Meloidogyne enterolobii. If found, measures will follow.

Temporary management measures plant passport
Naktuinbouw is taking temporary management measures when supervising the issuing of plant passports. Supervision will be temporarily intensified. In addition, companies will be informed and instructed on matters such as recognition of the nematode and how their own company inspection can be improved.

Responsibility of entrepreneurs
The NVWA again stresses the importance of entrepreneurs themselves taking responsibility. Ask for good guarantees from the supplier of planting material, and after import, keep the plants physically separated from other lots for at least 10 weeks, is the NVWA's advice.

Check the roots properly afterwards. Detailed administration and labeling of plants ensures that different lots can be properly distinguished from each other.

Read here what entrepreneurs themselves can do to prevent infection and how to recognize a possible infection with Meloidogyne enterolobii. A hygiene protocol is available from Glastuinbouw Nederland and Royal FloraHolland.

Should greenhouse vegetable growers be concerned?
If greenhouse vegetable growers are aware of the risks and avoid the exchange of high-risk soil and machinery, then with current knowledge, there is no reason for great concern yet.

Duty to report when Meloidogyne enterolobii is suspected
It is mandatory to immediately report any suspected contamination of Meloidogyne enterolobii to the NVWA. Reporting quickly can potentially limit the impact of the measures, as the contamination will not yet have had a chance to spread or will have had little chance to spread.

Source: NVWA

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