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Rose disease makes its way to North Louisiana

Roses. They come in many shapes, colors and sizes. But one of the more popular super plants known as the knockout rose has taken a sucker punch with the dreaded rose rosette disease.

“We knew it was coming. We have been actually seeing some customers with signs of it but it is such a serious disease that we send them to the AgCenter to Mark Wilson over there to get a definitive diagnosis of it,” said Mark Walton of Greenwood Gardens.

Mark Walton

It almost sounds like sci-fi stuff but this has happened before to another popular plant variety.

“We have had other things like the red-tipped photinia fungus that came in the ‘80s. These things happen you just adapt to them and find other plant material,” Walton said.

Example of rose rosette

But back to the roses and right up the road to the Gardens of the American Rose Center. Raj Singh of the LSU AgCenter is one of the state's leading research analyst for this disease known as rose rosette or witches broom. It morphs this plants into leggy spines and excessive thorns.

The rose society is on notice.

“Well, you know, it is always sad to hear that rose rosette has gotten near our city. We have been on the lookout for it for a very long time, though. Our gardens have been checked by Dr. Singh himself and few other people involved in rose rosette research,” said Laura Seabaugh, Rose Center director.

Laura Seagaugh

Rose rosette produces unique symptoms but can be confused with other problems such as pests or improper use of herbicide. The disease is transmitted by a tiny mite or by grafting. It can be passed along in the live roots of infected buses and there is no cure.

The Rose Society of Shreveport funds research to Texas A&M and the University of Tennessee to examine this problem. They are not going to take this lying down.

"No, no and the good thing is too that we know enough about rose rosette disease that we know what to do with it. We have a lot of educated horticulture professors. Dr. Allen Owings, who is a professor of horticulture who has worked with LSU AgCenter in Hammond. He is actually the chairman of the American Rose Center committee,” Seagaugh said.

Knockout roses

The experts offer a word of caution. Don't over react and pull up a plant that is not sick. Download a free pamphlet to learn more. Plus, interested folks can get together to talk about this knockdown of a disease.

“We also have a seminar that we are planning because we realize we have so many people in Shreveport, they have questions, want to know what's happening. So on Sept. 28, which is a Friday, Dr. Mark Windam and Dr. Singh are both going to be here at the American Rose Center. We are going to have a rose rosette seminar,” Seagaugh said.

“Main thing right now is for everybody to identify it so if you have it you get the bush and you destroy it,” Walton said.

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