By Hajar El Khaldi
Rabat – UK based organization British Society for Plant Pathology (BSPP) reports the first occurrence of Tomato leaf curl New Delhi virus (ToLCNDV) in Morocco.
BSPP’s New Diseases Reports (NDRs) bulletin, declared that the ToLCNDV constitutes a threat to the Moroccan production of cucurbit, include wax gourd, watermelon, cucumber, pumpkin, and zucchini; and Solanaceae plant family which include potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers.
ToLCNDV was first found in India in 1995, then in other Asian countries soon after, and more recently spread in Mediterranean countries, initially in Spain, Tunisia and Italy where it has been causing serious problems to growers, and more lately in Morocco.
The virus spreads either by direct contact or by seeds and infects plants throughout its life cycle and passes on the virus to its offspring; which makes managing the virus very challenging.
The outbreak has also been confirmed by the European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization (EPPO) since symptoms resembled those caused by ToLCNDV were observed in zucchini crops near Agadir and Taroudant in 2017.
“The incidence of disease was significant, with severe yellow mosaic symptoms accompanied by leaf curling and roughness of the fruit skin. The infected plants had smaller and fewer fruits when compared to healthy ones, and in most cases, fruit bursting was observed,” reads the report.
Morocco’s environmental conditions are favorable for cucurbit and Solanaceae crops; which makes them greatly significant to the economy.
In fact, Morocco produces around seven million tons of cucurbit and Solanaceae plant crops annually, 750 000 tons of which are exported to markets in the Middle East, Europe, and Asia.