Olive ‘ebola’ found in Valencia

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THE Valencian Community’s first known case of the Xylella fastidiosa bacterium was detected in Guadalest to send the region’s olive farmers into a panic.

The pathogen, which has wiped out hundreds of olive groves in Italy and the Balearics, was confirmed in Mallorca last November.

Losses to owners of olive, almond and citrus plantations can amount to millions as crops are lost and trees must be uprooted and destroyed to prevent the disease from spreading.

Elena Cebrian, who heads the regional government’s Agriculture department called an emergency meeting of the Vegetation Health committee after the bacterium was found in adult almond trees of the Marcona variety in Guadalest.

The seven-hectare plantation has been sealed off and contingency procedures applied.

“Eradication measures will be used,” announced Cebrian who said that this would mean allocating the economic resources to compensate growers faced with an invasion of the bacterium.

The Guadalest grower suspected in December last year that his trees could be infected after he noticed an unexplained reduction in the crop. Samples were taken but proved negative although a second analysis produced conflicting results.

In June the regional government’s Vegetation Health Service found that of 17 samples taken from almond trees last June, 12 tested positive.

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