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ToBRFV affects Southwestern Ontario tomato crops

Essex County greenhouse growers are struggling to develop a tomato strain that is able to fight off a resilient, fast-spreading global virus attacking local crops.

First detected here in 2019, the tomato brown rugose fruit virus hit hard again throughout the last growing season in Essex County, leading to yield losses and the destruction of large amounts of produce.

“It’s a global issue,” said Richard Lee, executive director of Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers. “It’s not specific to Leamington. Similar to pests and bio-security issues that are always a challenge and top priority for ag, it can definitely negatively affect yields and farming operations quickly.”

The Canadian government said the virus, which mainly affects tomatoes and peppers, was first identified in Israel in 2014 and has since spread around the world. It was detected in Ontario in 2019. Rugose spreads easily from plant to plant through contact with contaminated tools, equipment, and soil or infected plants and seeds.


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