Gov’t: Re­port all sus­pected cases of frosty pod rot

Jamaica Gleaner - - NEWS - christo­pher.serju@glean­

FROSTY POD rot only af­fects the pods, but is one of the most po­ten­tially dev­as­tat­ing dis­eases af­fect­ing co­coa.

Highly con­ta­gious, it leads to rot­ting of the pod within three months of in­fes­ta­tion, and if left unchecked, could wipe out be­tween 70 and 80 per cent of a co­coa tree’s pro­duc­tion.

So, with Ja­maica’s co­coa ranked among the top five in the world in the fine-flavoured list, the con­fir­ma­tion of the disease at a farm in Claren­don is cause for con­cern. Lo­cal farm­ers earned an es­ti­mated $422.3 mil­lion from the sale of co­coa be­tween 2011 and 2016, with US$7.68 mil­lion in ex­port earn­ings.

The disease, caused by the fun­gus Monil­io­ph­thora roreri, in­vades co­coa pods, dam­ag­ing them and the seeds within. This is man­i­fested in the young pods, show­ing light-yel­low swellings and some­times be­com­ing dis­torted. The seed mass may also be­come soft and wa­tery, ac­cord­ing to in­for­ma­tion pro­vided by the Re­search and Devel­op­ment Di­vi­sion of the Min­istry of In­dus­try, Com­merce, Agri­cul­ture and Fish­eries.

Older pods show gen­er­ally large necrotic (dead), dark­brown spots with ir­reg­u­lar borders. Par­tial or to­tal pre­ma­ture ripen­ing oc­curs, and in­ter­nally, seeds be­come red­dish brown. As the disease ad­vances, most of the necrotic sur­face be­comes cov­ered by a whitish fun­gal growth.

It is for this rea­son that the agri­cul­ture min­istry is ap­peal­ing to any and ev­ery­one who sees any symp­toms re­sem­bling frosty pod rot to re­port it im­me­di­ately to the rel­e­vant au­thor­i­ties. These in­clude: Co­coa In­dus­try Board – 923-6411 Ru­ral Agri­cul­tural Devel­op­ment Au­thor­ity (RADA) – 977-1158-62; toll free – 1-888-275-7232 Re­search and Devel­op­ment Di­vi­sion – 983-2267 Plant Quar­an­tine Pro­tec­tion Unit – 588-5844

A frosty pod rot-af­fected co­coa seed.

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