Tree-killer disease spreading further afield in Spain

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GUADALEST VALLEY: Luxuriant vegetation

DEADLY Xylella Fastidiosa, first detected in Guadalest after reaching the Spanish mainland from Baleares, is now in Benimantell.

After the first case was confirmed in a Guadalest Valley almond grove, two more were located in nearby Benimantell.

The bacterium which eventually kills trees by stripping them of all moisture reached Europe in October 2013 when it appeared in Apulia (Italy). It was found in Baleares last November and Brussels-approved controls have not prevented the plague from travelling in a straight line from Ibiza to the Marina Baja.

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The Guadalest case was found in December but early tests were inconclusive and Xylella Fastidiosa not confirmed until June. According to sources quoted in the local Spanish press following reports of the Benimantell discoveries, more Marina Baja cases could follow.

The pathogen spread by numerous species of insects that include cicadas and froghoppers affects practically everything grown in this area with olives, almonds, all types of fruit trees and ornamental plants at risk.

The regional government is complying with EU procedures that involve eliminating all trees and crops within a 100-metre radius of a Xylella Fastidiosa outbreak. In Guadalest this has affected 7 hectares of almond trees whose crop would have been ready in a month’s time.

Not only growers are worried by the probable outbreak as local mayors fear that large-scale eradication will affect a tourist area famed for its scenery and luxuriant vegetation.

Both have now asked the Generalitat to follow the measures used in Ibiza by removing only affected trees instead of destroying those on many hectares of surrounding land.

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