Whitefly outbreak among Spanish persimmons 'very disturbing'
The Valencian Farmers Association (AVA-ASAJA) in Spain has raised concern over the whitefly outbreak on local persimmon growers' farms, with the pest only previously having affected the country's citrus growers.
Producers and technicians from the Valencian Institute of Agricultural Research (IVIA) have both said different species of the new pest are adapting well to the fruit, and their colonies have begun to grow at an alarming rate.
The citrus whitefly, Dialeurodes citri, is the most prevalent species of the pest which has spread to persimmons, but two others have also been detected to a lesser extent: Paraleyrodes minei and Aleurothrixus flocossus.
The insects lay their eggs on the leaves of the trees and the larvae then grow and feed on the sap, considerably weakening the tree. The larvae also secrete molasses which cause a fungus to grow.
AVA-ASAJA president Cristóbal Aguado said it was 'very disturbing' that a pest which had previously only affected citrus was now damaging one of the few profitable crops left in the region.
"We must exercise caution, be alert, and collaborate with the Ministry of Agriculture in taking all the preventative measures that are necessary to avoid further growth to these whitefly colonies," he said.