Begonia crops from Dümmen Orange have been infected with Xanthomonas, according to multiple sources and a letter sent by the breeder to growers and brokers. Some growers are discarding the cuttings they’ve received, while others have had their future orders canceled and are looking for another source.
In a letter to growers, Dümmen Orange stated that it has confirmed the presence of Xanthomonas, a begonia-specific bacterial leaf spot, in its begonia production facility in El Salvador. 1.3 percent of the breeder’s total begonia stock production was infected, says Lindsay Pangborn, marketing manager at Dümmen Orange.
"Overall, this represents a very low risk to the market," Pangborn says. "This particular BLS strain is different than Xanthomonas that growers might be familiar with on other spring annual crops, as it is less aggressive, does not affect other species, and is manageable in production. Growers specialized in producing begonia are used to managing this not uncommon pathogen."
Week 51 unrooted cutting orders were sent to growers prior to Dümmen Orange discovering the issue and sending the notification, and the breeder has since requested that growers discard the begonia cuttings, according to the letter. The breeder will cancel and remove unrooted cutting begonia orders for weeks 52 and rooted cutting begonia orders for weeks 51 from orders before invoicing, according to the letter.
"Some of our growers have requested to receive their begonia order as planned," Pangborn says. "For those growers, we are working closely with them to provide one-on-one technical support from our staff in order to produce a successful begonia crop." They have received scouting and hygiene guides from Dümmen Orange.
Several growers requested to continue receiving shipments while scouting and working to prevent the disease, according to the letter.
Andy Genereaux, head grower at Premier Color Nursery in Fallbrook, Calif., said he received the letter from Dümmen Orange and all his operation’s begonia orders from the breeder were canceled. “We are trying to find some [replacement begonia cuttings], but there’s nothing out there,” he says.
Genereaux says that as far as he knows, only product from Dümmen Orange was infected. “Basically, it’s the varieties that Dümmen [Orange] had that are very unique that you can’t find anywhere else,” he says.
The shipment cancelation, Genereaux says, will “leave a giant hole” in Premier Color Nursery’s business. If unable to make up the volume with another supplier, he expects to lose about 8,000 begonias, which accounts for approximately 3 to 4 percent of the product that his business grows and ships wholesale throughout the western 11 states.
Doug Cole, owner of D.S. Cole Growers in Loudon, N.H, says his operation did recently receive unrooted begonia cuttings from Dümmen Orange. The company is dumping the product, will not ship any to customers and will not receive any more shipments of begonias from the breeder this season.
“We have many different varieties of begonias coming from other companies. These were never near the Dümmen [Orange] varieties in our greenhouses. We have been rooting begonias for over 20 years and are familiar with the challenges of Xanthomonas. We always disinfect our benches before growing a new crop on them. Because they are mobile benches, they get washed and disinfected between crops on a routine basis.”
Growers who have questions can email Info.NA@DummenOrange.com
We will be posting updates as we receive them. Refer back to greenhousemag.com for more information.