Fewer cold spells are great for pests, but terrible for farmers. Last year, there were higher incidents of bed bugs in the UAE as a result of increasing temperatures and in October, Jordan’s tomato production was hampered by heat and pests. Whether heat is responsible for a recently-discovered infestation of watermelon chlorotic stunt virus (WnCSV) is questionable, but the potential impact on one of Jordan’s top twenty crops could be devastating.
A study released by the Department of Plant Protection at the University of Jordan in Amman shows that various samples of watermelon and melon showed levels of the watermelon chlorotic stunt virus (WnCSV).
Leaf samples taken from watermelon, melon, squash, cucumber, and bottle gourd (Lagenaria siceraria) plants were tested for WmCSV-[JO] infection by PCR.
The virus was detected in 8 melon and 87 watermelon samples collected in Ghor Assafi, in the southern Jordan valley.
Compounding the problem, three samples taken from Mafraq were infected by both WmCSV-[JO] and Squash leaf curl virus. According to the report, the leaf curl virus is closely related to viruses present in Israel, Yemen, Iran, Lebanon, and Sudan.
“Watermelon plants biolistically inoculated with WmCSV-[JO] developed characteristic mottling, yellowing and severe leaf curling symptoms 3 weeks post inoculation.”
In 2005, according to the UN World Food and Agricultural Organization, watermelon was among Jordan’s top 20 most important and lucrative crops.
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image via ViNull