Within the last week, USDA has issued new guidance on an emerging viral disease of tomato and pepper. Tomato brown rugose fruit virus (ToBRFV) is a new tobamovirus (in the tobacco mosaic virus family) first documented in Israel.

Since then, ToBRFV has been found in Mexico, China, and several European locations. To prevent ToBRFV from significantly affecting tomato and pepper production in the US, restrictions on seed and fruit importation have been put in place by USDA APHIS.

This virus has the potential to cause 100% loss in tomato and pepper crops. ToBRFV can be transmitted via seed or mechanically, such as by handling infected plant material then handling an unaffected plant. This includes potential transmission from handling infected fruit from off the farm. In addition, bumblebees have been shown to transmit ToBRFV during normal pollination activities.

Greenhouse tomato and pepper producers in Kentucky should take several actions. All tomato and pepper producers should evaluate their planting material source.

International sources of seed are not recommended. Transplants with viral symptoms should not be put into production. Records regarding scouting and plant handling (by whom and when) should be maintained for every crop.

For growers with active production, thorough scouting of the greenhouse should take place now and regularly throughout the season.

Primary symptoms of ToBRFV on tomato include brown rugosity (a, d) or semi-circular yellowing on fruit (b,c), with mosaic or mottling patterns leaves (e,f,g).

As with all viruses, symptoms will be most severe on young plant tissues, such as newly formed leaves, blossoms, and developing fruit.

Pepper symptoms vary slightly to include bubbling on leaves and brown or black areas on fruit.

Growers should contact us at the Pulaski Co Extension office as soon as possible if virus symptoms are observed in their actively growing crop. Plants will need to be submitted to the UK Plant Disease Diagnostic Lab for evaluation.

For more information, call the Pulaski County Extension office at 679-6361. We have numerous UK publications on houseplants and the various pests that can become problematic. Become a fan of Pulaski County Horticulture on Facebook, follow @hortagentbeth on Twitter, or kyplants on Instagram.

Backyard fruit growers, come learn about fruit trees on Dec 6 at 1pm at the Pulaski Co Extension office. Dr John Strang will talk about proper care of apples and peaches. He'll also bring some apple varieties to taste. Always let us know if you're coming.

DIY Make a Kissing Ball Workshop will be held on December 9 at 1pm at the Pulaski Co Extension office. Class size is limited so register soon.

The Pulaski County Extension office will be closed November 28 and 29, 2019 for the Thanksgiving holiday. We will reopen on December 2, 2019.

Educational programs of Kentucky Cooperative Extension serve all people regardless of economic or social status and will not discriminate on the basis of race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, creed, religion, political belief, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, pregnancy, marital status, genetic information, age, veteran status, or physical or mental disability.

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