Sometimes the host and the
environment are there, but without the right timing and other conditions, the pest might not appear. 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:
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 on that farm 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 more of 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 growers to rely on testing rather than trying to guess what the problem is.
Consultants and field staff are also available to help growers
20 British Columbia FRUIT GROWER • Fall-Winter 2017
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.
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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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