US guardians of plant health have placed restrictions on imports of greenhouse vegetables in an effort to combat tomato brown rugose fruit virus (ToBRFV). The virus is a growing scourge of greenhouse vegetable producers, and a recognized threat in BC.
The restrictions, announced November 22, apply to shipments from Canada, Mexico, the Netherlands and Israel. While the virus has not been reported in Canada, the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is concerned that it may be present but undetected. It may also be on produce heading to the US by way of Canada.
“APHIS will require tomato and pepper fruit imported from Mexico, Israel, and the Netherlands (countries approved to export tomatoes where ToBRFV is present) to be inspected at the point of origin to ensure it is free of disease symptoms,” the memo announcing the new requirements states. “Because Canada imports tomato and pepper fruit from Mexico that are re-exported to this country, APHIS will also require tomato and pepper fruit from Canada to be inspected at the point of origin to ensure it is free of disease symptoms.”
ToBRFV was first reported in 2014 among tomatoes in Israel. It has since been reported in China, Mexico, Germany (where it was eradicated), Italy, Jordan, Turkey, Greece, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands.
While there have been no reported cases in Canada, this doesn’t mean growers aren’t vigilant. The threat the virus poses is significant enough that a session is being dedicated to it at the Pacific Agriculture Show in Abbotsford at the end of January.
“Knowledge of ToBFRV biology and its symptoms on solanaceous crops help us in the prevention, early detection and management of the disease,” says a summary of the seminar scheduled to be delivered by plant pathologist Siva Sabaratnam of the BC Ministry of Agriculture.