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Friday, April 12, 2002



State plans papaya
plant quarantine


Star-Bulletin staff

WAILUKU >> State agricultural officials are planning to establish a quarantine on the movement of papaya plants from Maui to Kauai, Molokai and Lanai in light of the recent outbreak of a papaya virus on the Valley Isle.

Officials said the quarantine does not apply to the transport of papaya fruit and seeds.

Test results have confirmed the papaya ringspot virus has reappeared in West Wailuku and appears to be present in Waikapu, Kihei, Pukalani and Makawao, officials said yesterday.

The disease, widely established on the Big Island and Oahu, is transmitted from infected papaya plants to healthy plants by aphids and causes poor quality, ringspot blemishes on the fruit and the eventual death of the plant.

The ringspot virus made a brief appearance in 1974 in Happy Valley on Maui but was eradicated by 1975, affecting only 100 trees within a 400-acre area, agricultural officials said.

The virus devastated the commercial papaya industry in 1994 on the Big Island, where 90 percent of all papayas are grown in the state.

Farmers have been using a genetically modified papaya resistant to the virus to manage the disease on the Big Island.

Maui residents are asked to check their papaya trees for symptoms of the virus, including the yellowing of top leaves, shoestring-looking leaves and water-streaking on the leaf stalks.

Those suspecting their papaya plants have the virus are asked to call agricultural officials on Maui at 244-3242.

State officials will be available to answer questions and provide information on the virus from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday near the stage at Kaahumanu Center in Kahului.



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