PPS Virus and flower bulbs and perennials

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Project period 2018 till 2021

The flower bulb and perennial sectors are faced with the challenge of tackling the ever-increasing virus problem in a socially responsible and sustainable way. In addition to the well-known viruses, new viruses are also emerging more often. These viruses cause the sectors to constantly run into problems, in cultivation and export. When a new or quarantine virus is found in third countries, borders are closed. The financial consequences for both sectors are therefore significant and are estimated at € 55.5 million for the flower bulb sector and € 3 million for the perennial plant sector.

Early detection of viruses in plant material and / or batches is crucial for cultivation and trade. Particularly for export to third countries, virus tests increasingly have to be carried out on the harvested product. This severely hampers and slows down trade, leading to high risks of financial loss.

It is desirable that phytosanitary guarantees in relation to market access can be issued on the basis of the inspection and production system and not on the basis of an export test.

Serological and molecular tests are available for the most well-known viruses. This allows inspections and export tests to be carried out on the plant material. A breakthrough - and a wish - in both sectors would be if a planting material test first demonstrated the absence of virus in the plant material. With a suitable test result, the party of flower bulbs or perennials obtains the designation "license to export, and trading can already take place during cultivation. The purpose of this method is to replace the current test on the harvested product. With the so-called planting material test, experience has been gained in lilies for two viruses with a zero tolerance since 2014. Is apparent from this that:

  • A planting stock test usually has a good predictive value for the export product to be harvested later
  • However, there is still a need for good protocols to prevent or barely increase the virus percentage during cultivation.

Only in this way the planting material test can become a substitute for the export test. It is important to develop instruments to get this planting stock test working properly for additional viruses in lily and tulip, and subsequently also for other crop-virus combinations.

The chain thus creates more certainty for wider sales of flower bulbs and perennials. Unfortunately, the knowledge required for this is currently still too fragmented and often insufficient or not yet available at all. It is important to arrive at an integrated system approach to prevent virus spread and multiplication in batches.

The aim of the research is to eventually arrive at a system in which clean starting material remains clean during cultivation and can then be freely traded with a quality certificate.

The development of new tools and cultivation measures that prevent or minimize the spread of viruses enables the grower to cultivate virus-free and market-oriented. Both growers and traders benefit from a virus-free chain, which creates broad sales opportunities.

More information?

For more information you can contact Frank Kreuk, Project Leader Flowerbulbs.

This project receives financial support from the Top Sector Horticulture & Propagation Materials (LNV). Within the Top Sector, the business community, knowledge institutions and government work together on innovations in the field of sustainable production of healthy and safe food and the development of a healthy and green living environment.