The First International Symposium on Plant Propagation, Nursery Organisation and Management for the production of Certified Fruit Trees was held in Locorotondo (Bari) Italy.
This ISHS (International Society for Horticultural Science) was attended by Hugh Campbell in his capacity as the plant material manager at Hortgro. He was accompanied by a South African contingent that included Prof Karen Theron, Rachel Kriel (PlantSA), Frederik Voigt (ZZ2) and Stuart Amos (Topfruit).
The objectives of the attendance are the following:
- Demonstrate South Africa’s commitment to plant certification by attending the first international symposium on plant certification of fruit trees.
- Get an understanding of the international status of plant certification.
- Re-connect with Naktuinbouw, CTIFL and CAV after having visited with them in July 2022 as part of the international benchmarking exercise undertaken by H Campbell, R Kriel and N Africander.
- Get insights in terms of the latest thinking on plant certification and propagation.
- Review and get exposed to the latest research in plant propagation and diagnostics.
61 delegates from 14 countries attended the symposium which included the main players in plant certification in Europe as well as some of the top nurseries and tissue culture plants (Agromillora, VITROplant Italia, CIV, Salvi Nursery, Battistini Nursery).
The ‘take-home’ messages from the symposium:
- Nursery tree certification:
- The three European institutions visited in July 2022 that were included in the international benchmarking exercise for the South African Plant Improvement Plan are the leaders in plant improvement in Europe. These institutions are Naktuinbouw in the Netherlands, CTIFL in France and CAV in Italy.
- The proposed implementation plan for SA’s deciduous fruit plant improvement (PIPs) aligns with all the certification systems presented at the symposium.
- The EU minimum standard (CAC) as well as the voluntary certification schemes are well monitored and inspected. PlantSA is in the process of re-focusing the inspection of certified and uncertified plant material.
- HTS (High Throughput Sequencing) or NGS (Next Generation Sequencing) is seen as the “Gold Standard for Certification” ($100 / test in USA) and can both shorten and improve the testing for pathogens. This holds great opportunity for SA.
- The use of cryotherapy in combination with thermotherapy to develop virus-cleaned material for commercial distribution is seen as a real opportunity that should be investigated.
- CIVI-Italia is a strong nursery organisation that leads all processes associated with nursery activities. This includes certification. There is an opportunity to strengthen the SA Deciduous Fruit Nurserymen’s Association.
- The CEO of Agromillora identified the four drivers of innovation in plant propagation to be: In vitro propagation, container plants, chip budding & micrografting and an improvement in greenhouse working conditions.
- Tissue has its role and will continue to grow its footprint based on its ability to deliver a superior plant to growers. Most Italian nurseries have their own tissue culture laboratory in the production of rootstocks. We need to investigate the possibility of new propagation techniques like green grafting on tissue culture rootstocks in pots with phytosanitary and many other advantages.