chocolate supply

Protect Chocolate Supply by Not Transporting Plants

DanSpecialty Crops, This Land of Ours

Following rules about plant transportation can help the world’s chocolate supply. That’s coming up on This Land of Ours.

chocolate supply
Image by Jᴜɴ Camμs from Pixabay

There are rules in place about not transporting soil and plants from one country to another, and USDA researcher Dr. Alina Puig says those are important to follow. She is studying diseases in the cacao plant, which provides the main ingredient for chocolate, and she says one way those diseases spread is from someone unknowingly bringing the virus in through infected soil or plants.

“With the Black Pod Rot, there will be a period if it’s early enough in the infection, there are no visible symptoms,” she said. “So, it’s possible that plants could be accidentally moved to a new location because somebody didn’t know it was infected. That’s one of the reasons why it’s important not to move plant material. That’s why we’re not supposed to bring plant material into the country without a permit.It’s to prevent things like this because often you can’t tell a plant is infected if it’s early on in the process.”

Black Pod Rot can also be moved through soil or plant roots, and Puig says that’s one of the reasons why when plants are moved through the proper routes from one county to another, they’re not moved with soil. The organism that causes the Black Pod Rot lives in the soil.

Dr. Puig is also researching cacao mild mosaic virus.

“The virus, on the other hand, that one spreads more easily because even plants that are infected, they can show strong symptoms, then a few months later they won’t have symptoms,” she explained. “So it’s very hard to tell visually alone whether a plant is infected.”

She said the virus is also transmitted by mealybugs, which can easily be missed while moving either fruit or branches for grafting onto other plants.

Listen to Sabrina Halvorson’s This Land of Ours program here.

Protect Chocolate Supply by Not Transporting Plants

Sabrina Halvorson
National Correspondent / AgNet Media, Inc.

Sabrina Halvorson is an award-winning journalist, broadcaster, and public speaker who specializes in agriculture. She primarily reports on legislative issues and hosts The AgNet News Hour and The AgNet Weekly podcast. Sabrina is a native of California’s agriculture-rich Central Valley.