"The rapidity of diffusion of the bacterium does not allow us to exclude its passage in other regions"

"We will have to learn to live with the disease of olive trees, because eradication is now impossible. Growers are experiencing moments of great difficulty, but they must understand that if all the measures for the containment of the bacterium and the vector are not implemented immediately, the situation could escalate even further in a short time”. It is the message that Stephanie Loreti, member of the Technical-Scientific Committee set up by the Ministry of Agricultural and Forestry Policies for the xylella emergency, launched, speaking at the workshop EVOlution: technologies at the service of the olive oil supply chain, held on Thursday 21 May at theUniversità Campus Bio-Medico di Roma. The event was part of the Tipitec project, promoted by the agency LazioInnova of the Lazio Region and five Roman universities, of which the Campus Bio-Medico is the leader.

"Scholars who are working on the disease – explained Loreti in his speech to workshop -sThey are extremely pessimistic about the speed with which the disease has spread: in April 2014 there were 8 thousand hectares affected, plus 5 outbreaks around Lecce. But already in July 2014 the affected hectares had become 23 thousand. And the disease is always increasing: according to the EU, currently, Lecce is no longer an eradication area, but a containment area. Sure, none of us have a crystal ball, but the The risk that the disease could spread beyond the Apulian regional borders is very concrete, because this type of bacteriosis has dissemination methods that make it difficult to stop once it arrives".

However, the expert reassured that the epidemic will have a impact on production, but not on the quality of oil and olives. "The only way to prevent is to follow the indications of the MIPAAF”, he repeated, adding that "to date, attention should be paid above all to the vector insect, the so-called 'spittle', because it is the main element of transmission of the bacterium. There are various ways to fight it. It is a priority to intervene with agronomic measures to try to balance the plants: adequate pruning, aeration interventions on the ground, constant monitoring”. On the other hand, cases like the one recorded in Puglia for olive trees had only occurred once before in similar proportions, many years ago in California. But US researchers, despite heavy investments, have not yet succeeded in eradicating the disease. Also for this reason, the member of the MIPAAF Technical-Scientific Committee concluded his report by recalling that "American scholars who have been working on these issues on grapevines and citrus fruits for years argue that one is not able to force nature to arrive at solutions in a short time. It's impossible even with research. There are no miraculous remedies, especially with bacteriosis".

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