Thursday, August 18, 2016

Controlling Black Sigatoka in the Dominican Republic

F2F Volunteer Cynthia Ocamb recently traveled to the Dominican Republic to complete an integrated pest management assignment focused specifically on Black Sigatoka. The DR is one of the biggest producers of bananas in the Caribbean and one of the most devastating diseases affecting crops is a leaf spot disease called Black Sigatoka, or black leaf streak. This disease causes significant reductions in leaf area, yield losses of 50% or more, and premature ripening, a serious defect in exported fruit. 

Dr. Ocamb examining leaves for disease
In meetings and field visits with producers and technicians, Dr. Ocamb explained why infected leaves should be removed regularly: “to reduce the leaf area with active infections and suppress subsequent spore production” and showed each producer what the early stages of Black Sigatoka look like and how the spores travel via water from infected leaves to uninfected ones. She also noted that leaf tips (rather than the entire leaf) can be removed if less than 50% of the leaf area is affected by the disease. 

In addition to field visits, Dr. Ocamb also conducted several trainings on recognizing disease symptoms and understanding management strategies for controlling Black Sigatoka – including cultural practices to reduce Black Sigatoka and fungicide applications for Black Sigatoka. Dr. Ocamb suggested that producers carry out weekly monitoring at geo-climatologically different areas in order to accurately time and monitor fungicide treatments and assess sanitary conditions. Regular monitoring and current information are key to stopping the progression of the disease.

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