such as Joshi, which can help to pin down the cause of a plant health issue. Many of the samples she receives

come from berry growers, and a number of those are ongoing problems she is asked to identify, from fungal issues to bacterial ones, cankers, viruses and insects, including nematodes. With environmental changes, she says

today she sees more of particular pests, such as godronia cankers and phomopsis blight in blueberries, root rots and bacterial blight, or cane blight in raspberries. “With any pest or disease the environment is just one factor, but with a changing environment, there are also changing plant health issues. Even timing of environmental factors may lead to changes in what issues there are. Organisms find the host they need,” Joshi explains. She describes it as a triangle shaped

by three factors: pest, plant variety and environmental conditions. All have to be there at the right time to provide the right conditions for particular pests to become a problem in the field. Sometimes the host and the environment are there, but without the right timing and other conditions, the pest might not appear. For example, if drainage is an issue in

a particular year or on a site, then there could be some root rot issues with raspberries. She admits that sometimes a plant

health issue with a new variety will stump her, but she can usually diagnose the common issues with the familiar varieties of different crops grown now in B.C.

She advises growers who see an issue

on a plant to first go to the website: industry/agriculture-seafood/animals- and-crops/plant-health/plant-health- laboratory where fact sheets can help narrow down the issue and there is information on what details she will need to help out growers. “We need to know the history of what

the farmer has done in that field too,” she explains. And, it’s important she receives a good sample at the lab. If it’s just an issue that shows up on a

leaf, it’s okay to bring in just the leaf, but if the plant is yellowing or appears to be dying, then a grower will need to bring in the whole plant so that different tests can be done on different parts of the plant. Not surprisingly, she notes that new

growers have the most problems identifying plant health issues. As well, sometimes they believe they have an insect or disease issue and it’s actually a problem with an irrigation line, for instance. Joshi advises, “An accurate and timely diagnosis is a crucial first step to implementing appropriate pest management strategies. Different pathogens can show similar symptoms in the field, but the management options can be different. “It’s parallel to human health diagnoses. You wouldn’t take an antibiotic or other medication without going to a doctor and having your health issue verified first.” She does advise that growers rely on

testing rather than trying to guess what the problem is. Consultants and field staff are also available to help growers narrow down

the possible plant health issue. In 2016 alone, the Plant Health Laboratory ran a total of 3,500 tests to identify problems from samples submitted to the laboratory. Plant samples sent to the laboratory

range from berry crops, such as blueberry plants; woody ornamentals from nursery crops; tree fruit; greenhouse floriculture; field and greenhouse vegetables; mushrooms and landscape plants. All samples submitted to the laboratory are voluntary and provide an avenue for surveillance of invasive pests and diseases in B.C. An electronic record of each sample

has been logged since 1987. This provides valuable information on pest and disease detections and trends that have occurred over the past 30 years. There is a small fee for analysis of plant samples, she notes.

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British Columbia Berry Grower • Fall-Winter 2017 15

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