`Europe Acts to Stop Spread of Olive Tree Killer - Olive Oil Times

Europe Acts to Stop Spread of Olive Tree Killer

Feb 17, 2014 3:57 PM EST
Julie Butler

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The European Union has banned the move­ment of some plants out of Lecce, in Italy’s Apulia region, to help pre­vent the spread of the dev­as­tat­ing dis­ease which has already infected hun­dreds of olive trees there.

In a reg­u­la­tion pub­lished on Saturday, the EU also requires all its mem­ber states to start annual checks for the pres­ence of the plant pathogen respon­si­ble, Xylella fas­tidiosa (Xf), and to report on their first such sur­vey by the end of October.

The reg­u­la­tion — Commission Implementing Decision of 13 February 2014 as regards mea­sures to pre­vent the spread within the Union of Xylella fas­tidiosa” — says that last October 21 Italy informed the EU of the pres­ence of Xf in two sep­a­rate areas of Lecce. It was the first time the pres­ence of Xf in the field had been con­firmed in the EU.

Two more out­breaks have since been con­firmed in Lecce, as has Xf’s pres­ence in sev­eral other species apart from the olive tree (Olea europaea L.), namely in almond, ner­ium ole­an­der and oak trees.

Italian media reported that European Commission experts inspected affected groves and nurs­eries there last week and an announce­ment is awaited on whether mea­sures that could include a mas­sive tree cull may be ordered for the about 600,000 olive trees said to be within the dis­ease zone.


The EU ban does not apply to seeds, and although it refers to the move­ment of plants for plant­ing out of the province of Lecce”, the reg­u­la­tion excludes many such plants (listed in two annexes) because exten­sive test­ing found they were not infected by Xf.

Hallmarks of the dis­ease include leaf scorch and rapid decline symp­toms.

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