US (HI): Experts scramble to figure out what’s killing a popular tropical plant

Frustrated Oahu farmers are pleading for help in their attempt to figure out what’s killing off their ornamental ginger crops.

The plants are popular for landscaping and floral displays, and concerned growers have been reaching out to experts at the University of Hawaii for about 5 years as they try to get to the bottom of the problem.

The devastation has now spread to at least six farms in Windward Oahu, as well as other parts of the island. University researchers are asking state lawmakers for funding to help them pinpoint the source of the problem.

Experts have visited several farms and identified at least four different plant viruses, as well as about a dozen diseases in the soil.

With no solution in sight, the owners of JC Farms of Hawaii in Kahaluu decided to switch to another crop. Their ginger plants experienced stunted growth, rotten roots, and streaks on the leaves and flowers.

Experts are now trying to make sure that the problem doesn’t spread to other islands. A proposal approved by the full House on Tuesday would provide money to the university for research and prevention efforts.

Read more at Hawaii News Now (Lisa Kubota)

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