By Karla Arboleda
Tomato brown rugose fruit virus (ToBRFV) is not currently in Florida produce, but the virus has a global track record.
Detected first in 2015 in Jordan, and with outbreaks as recent as 2018 in California, ToBRFV is easily transmitted through contact. Ozgur Batuman, citrus pathologist at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Southwest Florida Research and Education Center in Immokalee, spoke about the virus at the recent Vegetable & Specialty Crop Expo. He said tomato growers need to start paying attention to the root of the cause.
“The first thing is that (growers) should be avoiding (ToBRFV) at all costs,” Batuman said. “To do that, they should be paying attention to where they are buying their seeds … They should be virus-free and certified.”
Although the disease is not in Florida, researchers stress its potential negative effects.
“(For) this disease, there is no resistant variety,” Batuman said, adding that varieties currently growing in Florida are resistant to other diseases and closely related to ToBRFV.
Tomato growers in Florida need to diagnose and verify any suspicions regarding ToBRFV with Extension agents. Preventing the disease by removing infected tomato plants and reducing the handling of infected tomato plants is key.
“Once you have these infected seeds planted in your greenhouse or in the field … even if you are not touching, but brushing by infected plants, (ToBRFV) will be everywhere that you’re going to touch,” Batuman said. “Sanitation, sanitation and sanitation.”
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