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[nafex] FW: Researchers Battle Plum Pox in Pennsylvania

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From: "ARS News Service" <isnv@ars-grin.gov>
To: "ARS News List" <ars-news@ars-grin.gov>
Subject: Researchers Battle Plum Pox in Pennsylvania
Date: Tue, Sep 18, 2001, 6:20 AM

Researchers Battle Plum Pox in Pennsylvania


ARS News Service
Agricultural Research Service, USDA
Jan Suszkiw, (301) 504-1630, jsuszkiw@ars.usda.gov
September 18, 2001

Near historic Gettysburg, Pa., federal and state scientists are facing down
a different kind of threat than that once posed by General Robert E. Lee's
Confederate troops: an exotic stonefruit disease called plum pox that's
invaded orchards in Pennsylvania's Adams, Cumberland and York counties.

When and how it arrived there--possibly from Europe--remains speculative.
Fortunately, even before its U.S. presence was announced in October 1999,
U.S. Department of Agriculture scientists had already begun researching the
disease in anticipation of its arrival. Soon after the announcement, they
teamed with scientists from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture and
Pennsylvania State University to better tackle this new threat to the
nation's $1.8 billion stonefruit industry.

Through research on six basic fronts, including identification of aphid
carriers and herbaceous weed reservoirs, they're helping to eradicate plum
pox from the affected counties and devise strategies by which U.S. orchard
managers can cope with the disease should it recur elsewhere, according to
Vernon Damsteegt, a plant pathologist with USDA's Agricultural Research

Plum pox poses no danger to consumers. But it can ruin the marketability of
plums, peaches, apricots and other stonefruits by causing acidity and
deformities. Adams, Cumberland, and York counties in Pennsylvania are the
only U.S. locations where plum pox (strain D) has been reported.

Since spring 2000, Pennsylvania researchers have been surveying orchards in
the affected and neighboring counties to determine which aphid species occur
there. At ARS' Foreign Disease-Weed Science Research Unit in Fort Detrick,
Md. (www.armymedicine.army.mil/usda), Damsteegt and PSU scientist Frederick
Gildow test the aphids to determine which actually transmit plum pox to
plants. One confirmed accomplice is the green peach aphid.

Meanwhile, ARS horticulturist Ralph Scorza in Kearneysville, W.Va., is
checking the susceptibility of native and ornamental Prunus species. Both
studies will help scientists find, and break, weak links in the plum pox
disease cycle, as well as monitor any possible spread to woodland areas or

A longer story in in the September issue of Agricultural Research magazine
appears on the web at:

The research is part of the ARS National Program on plant diseases,
described at:


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