PSHB plight unpacked at crucial information day

1 June 2023

The polyphagous shot hole borer (PSHB) or stump-headed beetle presents a major challenge for the fruit industry in South Africa.

AECI Plant Health held a crucial information day last month, where deciduous fruit producers governing body Hortgro applied entomology researcher Dr Minette Karsten unpacked the struggle with the PSHB, helping keep our crop advisors (CAs) up to speed on the most important changes and challenges facing the stone fruit industry.

With its deadly fungus (Fusarium euwallaceae), the PSHB has created widespread havoc among trees in Gauteng and the Western Cape.

Multiple research teams are currently studying the PSHB. Hortgro posted a YouTube video in May where crop protection manager Matthew Addison explains the process of submitting the fungus for testing to identify the presence of the PSHB. He highlights that an industry funded MSc student developed the process, as doing genetic analysis on the beetle is problematic. (Watch vide here.) 

According to Hortgro, there are no known remedies to combat this pest and early identification and complete eradication of the tree is the current operational practice.

The PSHB is one of the top priorities at Hortgro given the serious impact it could have on the future viability of the pome and stone fruit industries.  

AECI Plant Health is actively involved with industry to try to find solutions for the successful control of this problem.

Our information day also emphasised the importance of integrated pest management principles in fruit cultivation.

Agrochemicals supplier Philagro discussed its latest trial work involving fruit firmness of stone fruits, while SAPO senior plant pathologist Roleen Carstens provided background on plum marbling.

AECI Plant Health regulatory affairs manager Noelene Odendaal also updated CAs on GHS (Globally Harmonized System) changes.

CAs were further equipped with the latest information on MRLs (maximum residue levels), which limit our producers' risk in the international markets, by AECI Plant Health technical adviser Kobus Moller.

The benefits of Biocult products were once again emphasised through trial work, as was the importance of making the NuWay approach a part of producers' management practices on their farms.