Fungus infecting hundreds of acres of lettuce

YUMA, Ariz.-

Leaders in the agricultural industry from around the world met today in Yuma to discuss a growing problem in the industry that is destroying hundreds of acres of lettuce. The Fusarium Wilt is a fungus that infects various types of lettuce, causing the plant to not be able to absorb water and other needed nutrients.

At the meeting today, Experts discussed possible treatments to deal with the fungus. If it is not taken care of it could decline Yuma’s number one export. The big problem is there is no known way of how to stop it.

The fungus was first discovered in Japan in the 1950s.  Since then it has spread all over the world to other countries and made its arrival to Yuma in 2001.

Paul Brierley the Executive Director for Yuma Center of Excellence for Desert Agriculture says the fungus was transported here from soil stuck on equipment used to transport the lettuce seeds. He also says that the fungus wilts various types of lettuce but is most effective in Iceberg lettuce.

In the last five years, the fungus had only infected 150 acres of land, now it has tripled to 450 acres and has cost Yuma $250 million. Professor Barry Pryor with the University of Arizona says there is no way to get rid of the Fusarium Wilt once it enters the soil.

The leaders of the agriculture industry are hopeful to find a way around the problem but say more research needs to be done before the can come up with a solution.



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