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Experts Gathering in Italy to Tackle New Olive Tree Killer

Oct. 1, 2014
Julie Butler

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Gallipoli — the epi­cen­ter of the new dis­ease dev­as­tat­ing olive trees in Italy — will soon bring together experts from around the world in a bid to bet­ter man­age the out­break.

With about 600,000 olive trees said to be at grave risk in the wider area of Salento — some­times described as the heel” of the Italian boot” — the sci­en­tists will attend a sym­po­sium* held October 21 – 22 on the insect-borne pathogen Xylella fas­tidiosa (Xf).
See Also: Complete cov­er­age of the Xylella fas­tidiosa out­break
Offering a detailed overview of this emerg­ing threat, the pro­gram includes ple­nary ses­sions, vis­its to affected groves in Lecce province, and train­ing work­shops on state-of the-art detec­tion of the cul­prit.

According to Italian mem­ber of the European Parliament Aldo Patriciello, the leaf scorch’ caused by Xf already spans 23,000 hectares of prime olive trees in Puglia, with 2,000 dis­eased trees and 600,000 at risk.

Aldo PatricielloIn a motion to the par­lia­ment in September, Patriciello called on the European Commission to estab­lish an appro­pri­ate local research and assis­tance pro­gram, which should also include restor­ing the worst affected areas, which can­not now be saved, to their nat­ural state.”

The Commission has yet to respond to the peti­tion but in February it applied mea­sures designed to con­tain the out­break, includ­ing a ban on the move­ment of some plants out of Lecce, a province in Apulia. It also required all EU mem­ber states to start annual checks for the pres­ence of Xf. The dead­line for their reports on their first such sur­vey is immi­nent — the end of October.

Italy’s Ministry of Agriculture recently also announced a plan to bat­tle Xf which includes enforc­ing a san­i­tary cor­don designed to stop it spread­ing north.

The sym­po­sium orga­niz­ers are: the Institute for Sustainable Plant Protection (CNR, Bari); Department of Soil, Plant and Food Science of the University of Bari; Centro di Ricerca, Sperimentazione e Formazione in Agricoltura Basile Caramia;” and CIHEAM-Mediterranean Agronomic Institute, Bari.

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