Kernock Park Plants business development manager Mark Taylor said Xylella is "the big thing everyone is talking about". He is receiving emails on what the nursery is doing to prevent the disease coming in and warned that plants such as vinca are hosts as well as the trees most associated with the disease, which is hard to spot. He said because of this the disease might be in the UK already without having been identified.
AHDB research manager Wayne Brough said an AHDB meeting on at RHS Wisley 16 February would focus on the issue as well as agapanthus gall mite and aquilegia downy mildew, with plant health advice being given.
Growers suggest a small importer will bring in the disease. Many European growers at IPM were promoting certified stock. The European Nurserystock Association said: "Some progress is being made by the EU, allocating funding for R&D and preventive sampling, and we'd expect more funding for quick eradication and help for businesses affected by new outbreaks, if necessary. We are also confident the nurseries out of the demarcated areas are free from Xylella fastidiosa."
Harkness Roses owner Philip Harkness said new plant diseases such as Xylella could change the way plants are traded. Floribunda roses are on the list of susceptible plants, meaning a rose will need plant passporting for the first time, he added.
HTA chief executive Carol Paris said: "We're going to have to accept plant health issues are going to become more commonplace with climate change and more global trading." International Association of Horticultural Producers (AIPH) general secretary Tim Briercliffe pointed out that increasing plant health issues are the "biggest barrier to global trade".
Majestic Trees owner Steve McCurdy, who was a silver medal winner at the AIPH awards at IPM Essen, said: "Everyone has got to take Xylella very seriously and think hard about who they're doing business with. It's about buying from people you know and trust, not just what's looking good on the internet." Some growers are suffering financially with "the Dutch not buying from Italy" and "that's when people do desperate things", he added. The disease is currently dormant but McCurdy said it would be back this spring.
- The latest Government advice on Xylella is available at www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/ 491809/xylella-fastidiosa-impl-trade.pdf.