ST JOHN’S, Antigua – While the local Plant Protection Unit is at a loss as to what is killing palm trees and ornamental palms, authorities in Jamaica are cutting down palms affected by what they termed as “the lethal yellowing disease.”
Manager of Coconut Industry Board (CIB) in Jamaica, Yvonne Burns, said the lethal yellowing disease has re-emerged as the major threat to the local industry.
She said at the first sign of the disease the trees are cut down and the crowns burnt.
“We are not sure if the disease is transported by a pest or what so at the first sign we cut it down and replant a tree, but we ensure that the crown is burnt or insecticide is sprayed on the trees,” Burns said in an interview with OBSERVER Media.
She said the lethal yellowing is caused by a phytoplasma but scientist are yet to determine exactly how it is spread, which makes it difficult to control and hence the reason for the decision to cut down the trees and replace them with healthy ones.
The CIB in Jamaica has also encouraged farmers to ensure that their farms are cleared and plant seedlings, which are resistant to the disease.
The board is in the process is of re-planting a seedling called the Malayan Dwarf in the northeast side of Jamaica, which seemed highly resistant to the disease.
During the last six months, the unknown pest of sorts has been affecting coconut trees and other palm plants in Antigua.
The Plant Protecting unit headed by plant protection officer Dr Janil Gore-Francis is now conducting laboratory testing to determine the identity of the evasive species.
(More in today’s Daily OBSERVER)