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Deadly threat to olive trees

olivetreeA deadly bacterium is likely to spread throughout Europe’s olive trees.

Xylella fastidiosa, also called olive leaf scorch, is destroying ancient olive groves in the Apulia region of southern Italy. Several thousand hectares of olive trees are now affected.

It is “very likely” to spread to other areas of Europe, according to a study by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

The bacteria halt water movement in trees, resulting in yellowed leaves which then fall off followed by the branches.

“The consequences are considered to be major because yield losses and other damage would be high and require costly control measures,” the report said.

Xylella is common in the Americas and the Middle East. It could have arrived in Europe by infected insects which travelled with food shipments.

The bacteria are spread by insects and different strains can attack a host of other plants, such as oak, citrus, almond, peach, and oleander.

It is difficult to ward off its advance because insecticides have their own environmental impacts, EFSA say. Nevertheless, the report recommends specific insecticide treatment for imported plants along with the eradication of infected insect populations.

Last November, the commission earmarked €7.5m for fighting several pests, including Xylella. Some €751,000 of this went to Italy, with the Italian government providing the same amount. The EU will consider new funding to fight the bacteria at the January meeting.

It has already been a tough year for olive growers in Spain and Italy as harvests have been poor because of other pests and bad weather. The two countries produce 70% of Europe’s olives.

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-3 #4 Moody 2015-01-11 17:10
The accidental introduction of the Eucalyptus leaf beetle pest, Paropsisterna selmani into Ireland, poses a significant threat to their commercial foliage, biomass and forestry industries. This is the first paropsine leaf beetle to become established in Europe. Perhaps not a bacteria pest, but still a possible threat to Portugal's eucalyptus forests!
-1 #3 Mr John 2015-01-09 18:19
A eucalyptus bacteria pest.
i don't know this pest but the eucalyptus oil will protect the olive trees,,, read on.
We in Australia know this as ''Eucalyptus essential oil as a natural pesticide'' and ironically Portugal is a major producer of this essential oil, will they use it,, ah i don't think so, by the time they finish arguing about it all the trees will be dead and so will i.
-3 #2 Mr John 2015-01-09 18:03
Could you explain what
''what is needed there is a eucalyptus bacteria pest''
I'm from Australia, lived there all my life but i've never heard that phrase, what i can say is if Portugal could protect it's olive trees then olive oil could be a good export should other countries have a problem, as for eucalyptus trees, they shed leaves every day all year round, they need fire to germinate so,,, eucalyptus trees + Portugal = disaster, need i say more
-3 #1 Edward Montague 2015-01-09 13:46
Certainly a problem as Portugal already has a major difficulty with the misuse of pesticides.

Killing off not just friendly insects but also much larger wildlife like rabbits. And raptors and domestic animals then feeding off them - and dying slowly. And expensively if using a vet to smooth their passing, as we were.

The problem though is that there are few specialists to supervise the use of these agro-chemicals and this being Portugal - those that have even a day in a training classroom, get a certificate of attendance and then charge crazy money for their services.

So the DIY types, quite possibly illiterate, continue mixing and diluting as before.

As often said in central Portugal though - what is needed there is a eucalyptus bacteria pest.

Resulting in less violent fires. And unless Portugal gets substantially more rain in the next few weeks before Spring - we are all in for a particularly 'fiery' summer !

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