"Rose rosette disease has become larger problem in Amarillo"

Rose rosette disease (RRD) is a rose disease that has been in existence since the 1940s but that did not have a wide impact on the rose industry or those of us who grow them for many decades. However, with roses becoming more popular and breeding and sales of them increasing over the years, it has become a larger problem, writes Bob Hatton in his column at www.amarillo.com.

In 2011, it was determined that the disease is caused by a virus. The vector responsible for spreading it is a microscopic mite that hides deep within rose flowers and leaf buds. Now the disease is much more common.

A Texas Master Gardener friend recently told me that it is in Amarillo and has done significant damage in some areas. Thus, recognizing it and identifying it is important to all of us who grow roses. This is more important than many other problems with roses because there is no cure, and proper disposal of any rose having the disease is important to stop its spread.

Symptoms of this disease include excessive small thorns (prickles) on a cane(s), dappled red coloring of leaves, red canes, succulent and sometimes elongated and thickened stems, witches’ broom, and other distortions or abnormalities. (Witches’ broom is a diseased or mutated mass of dense, tangled, deformed twigs and foliage like a bird’s nest.) Not all symptoms will always appear. Pictures on the Web are numerous and can be found by searching for RRD.

There is no known cure for RRD at this time, and plants that have the disease, even on one cane, should be completely removed, roots and all, from gardens. The soil need not be removed, but the plant must be disposed of in the trash. Do not compost. While there are rare cases of a rose recovering when the disease has been caught early and the affected plant parts removed, this strategy is not recommended. The mites that serve to spread the disease are so small that they are moved easily by anything that touches them such as clothing, gloves, and tools as well as by the wind. They can only be seen with high-powered microscopes. There is no way to tell if the mite is still present, thus there is still the threat of spreading the disease.

Read the complete article at www.amarillo.com.

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