Guest speakers prepare to address tomato pest and disease threat seminar

The British Tomato Growers' Association (BTGA) and the Horticultural Development Company are holding a seminar to give the tomato industry details of current pest threats.

These include the South American tomato moth (Tuta absoluta), which has triggered the most alarm bells among growers.

It has found its way from its natural habitat to the Mediterranean basin and then to the UK in supplies of Spanish tomatoes.

The pest was found here for the first time this year in a number of packhouses and has escaped from them onto production sites in packing material and crates.

The reason T. absoluta has spread so quickly is that, apart from attacking the plants, it burrows into the fruit and hitches a lift when affected fruit is marketed.

A BTGA representative commented: "EU plant health authorities are conducting a pest risk analysis and the outcome will determine how the pest is dealt with. If the UK were to be designated as a protected zone, this could have significant consequences for the trade in fresh tomatoes."

Leading government scientists and plant health inspectors from the Food & Environment Research Agency and industry consultants will advise on the prevention and control of this and other threats to the tomato crop.

The event is being held on Thursday 14 January 2010 in the Avon Suite, Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire. Topics to be covered include:

  • Viruses and viroids — including Columnea latent viroid and Pepino mosaic virus — their status and results of research projects.
  • South American tomato moth (Tuta absoluta), including its control and implications for trade if the UK is designated with protected zone status in EU plant health arrangements.
  • Bacterial canker (Clavibacter michiganense).
  • Tobacco whitefly (Bemisia tabaci).
  • Preventing and managing quarantine pest and disease threats — a practical guide.

Attendance at the seminar is free but preregistration (before 7 January) is required. Email

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