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Pests & Diseases of Coconuts

Key pest issues
• The critical importance of Red Palm Mite (RPM), associated with production losses >75% in Trinidad and clearly causing widespread damage elsewhere.
• The continuing threat of LYD, but also possibilities for management, even in Jamaica where “resistant” MD and Maypan varieties have succumbed in large numbers.
• The need to bring red-ring, its palm weevil vector, and other stem- and flower damaging insects under control, especially for replanting programmes
• The importance of bud rot disease in some countries, notably the Dominican Republic
• The comparative obscurity of Hartrot/Cedros wilt (Phytomonas)
• Most other pests have limited or sporadic distribution but can cause serious local losses.

Red Palm Mite
(Raoiella indica)
• Introduced ~2004, now widespread
• Associated with a dramatic decline in production in some countries
• Good knowledge base but lack of farmer awareness
• Augmentative biocontrol under investigation but exotic BCAs may be needed
• Varietal tolerance needs to assessed Lethal Yellowing (16sr group IV phytoplasmas)
• Very destructive in northwestern Caribbean (Jamaica, Cuba, Haiti, Belize, Bahamas, Florida, Mexico, Honduras); recent spread to St Kitts-Nevis and Antigua but not yet widespread in the Dominican Republic
• Malayan Dwarf / Maypans now being affected in Jamaica
• Appears disease in less susceptible varieties can be managed by rigorous phytosanitation and intensive cultivation (“Black’s method”)
• Selections and hybrids with better resistance under development but require further testing and deployment
• Need to screen for alternative sources of resistance

Red ring, palm weevils, and borers
(Bursaphelenchus cocophilus, Rhynchophorus palmarum, R. ferrugineus, Strategus spp., Castnia daedalus)
• Red ring and weevil vectors cause significant losses in southern Caribbean (Trinidad, Guyana, Suriname, Belize)
• Red ring a major treat to replanting where infestations are left uncontrolled and traditional phytosanitary practices are no longer practiced
• Need for area-wide control measures backed by research on alternatives to obsolete insecticides, semiochemicals and biocontrol
• Control of cockle beetles (American rhinoceros beetle) and moth borers could be improved by similar measures

Bud rot
(Phytophthora palmivora, P. katsurae)
• Occurs throughout the region, but usually sporadic and can be difficult to diagnose
• Outbreaks in Dominican Republic thought to be associated with introduction of hybrids from W Africa
• Chemical control available


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