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Xanthomonas on begonia mother stock in El Salvador

Update from Dümmen Orange infected begonia cuttings

Dümmen Orange announced the presence of a bacterial leaf spot (Xanthomonas) on their begonia mother stock at their facility in El Salvador on December 16, 2017. They alerted their customers who were potentially affected and ceased the shipping of begonias to the majority of customers in North America (URC of Begonia elatior and begonia hybrids). Over the last weeks, they have put into place new scouting protocols and sanitation measures and destroyed all suspicious material at their facility in El Salvador. Besides, they are working closely with growers -with experience in managing BLS - who requested to receive their begonia order as planned.

Early discovery
Less than 2 percent (1.3, to be precise) of the total begonia stock production at their farm Las Mercedes in El Salvador was infected by Xanthomonas and, according to Dümmen Orange's Marketing Manager for North America Lindsay Pangborn, they are fortunate that it was discovered early. "Only a very small portion of the season had shipped, so most customers had not yet received any product."

Low risk to North American market
Next to discovering it early, it also seems to represent a very low risk to the North American market. "This particular BLS strain is different than Xanthomonas that growers might be familiar with on other spring annual crops, as it is less aggressive, does not affect other species, and is manageable in production. Growers specialized in producing begonia are used to managing this not uncommon pathogen", says Pangborn.

All suspicious material destroyed
In response to their findings, new scouting protocols and sanitation measures have been put into place and all suspicious material has been destroyed at their facility in El Salvador. "In the recent weeks, we consulted many leading industry professionals for input on how to react swiftly and stop any potential contamination." It is, however, too early to state that the facility is entirely clean. "We can never guarantee that something is clean (due to incubation time and the nature of the product). We do see that the percentage of infected plants is decreasing due to the different measures that have been taken on the farm. We will continue with actions, such as extra controls, to reduce the risk of infections for customers."

Informing customers
According to Pangborn, the most important task is to inform their customers in the right way. The customer response to the situation differs. Some orders are replaced with different products or are being canceled, but there are also growers who have requested to receive their begonia order as planned. "Multiple growers with experience in managing BLS have requested to receive their begonia order as planned. For those growers, we are working closely with them to provide one-on-one technical support from our staff in order to produce a successful begonia crop. We have increased our percentage of over-pack by 5 percent for the season to limit possible loss of our customer and there are additional exit controls."

Europe: Deliver 98 percent as planned
From their production facility in El Salvador, they also send unrooted begonias to their rooting stations in Europe. Also with them, they are working together to manage the crop closely. "We will be able to deliver 98% of the rooted orders as planned."

Future stock
The phytosanitary team of Dümmen Orange is actively managing the build-up of future stock to ensure that the supply for spring 2019 and beyond is secure. "We have invested tremendously in breeding new genetics for the industry, and we have allowed for a larger safety buffer in planning for the future stock. Our first priority is to secure the global supply chain for all customers and varieties, regardless of exclusivity."

"We have a responsibility to the market at large to limit shipping of potentially infected material. Dümmen Orange has not been and will never intentionally ship infected cuttings. We recognize that this is a significant inconvenience for many customers, and we are deeply apologetic. We are working diligently to offer solutions and secure future supply."

Any related inquiries should be directed to

Publication date: 1/3/2018
Author: Elita Vellekoop



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I still have not seen a list of which begonias are affected, and will not be available to us. Is there not a list you can email so that we can check with our suppliers as to whether we should be looking for substitutions?
Ellen Smith, Queensbury, NY, USA - 1/6/2018 6:14:08 PM

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