Research project Organisation of a practical phytosanitary survey for Vaccinium berries.

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Main research question

The BERRYPEST project examines the spectrum of pests and diseases that are currently found in Vaccinium berry cultivation in Belgium. The questions are 'Which pest and pathogen organisms can be identified in Vaccinium that have been or can be imported via the international trade of plant material and fruits? and 'Which preventive measures and control strategies can be proposed based on the EPPO-DROPSA recommendations and the results of this project?'

Research approach

First, we map the total spectrum of diseases and pests in both Vaccinium berry cultivation in Belgium and on imported Vaccinium planting material and fruits based on well-considered sampling and efficient detection/identification. Second, we compare the research results with the findings of the EPPO-DROPSA study. Specific attention is paid to the situation of recent EU introductions (Thekopsora minima, blueberry scorch virus, etc.) and the risk for Belgium. The other organisms included in the proposed Alert List are also analyzed within the framework of the results of the survey. Then preventive measures and a control strategy are elaborated based on the results of this project and checked against the EPPO-DROPSA recommendations.

Relevance/Valorization

We aim to apply the research results in three areas: 1) status determination of the insects, mites, fungi and viruses listed in the DROPSA alert list in Belgium; 2) to support the legislative and controlling authorities with competence in the phytosanitary field, this project supports the phytosanitary policy on the import of plant material/fruits by adapting legislation and procedures based on the acquired insights and recommendations; 3) to support fruit cultivation (Vaccinium berry growers as well as the entire fruit sector), we draft procedures/measures to more effectively prevent the introduction of diseases and pests that have a significant impact on the profitability of the crop and on the export possibilities of Belgian fruit.