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Developing a foundation for the long-term management of basal stem rot of oil palm in Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands

This project aims to improve the long-term management of basal stem rot, a fungal disease that threatens oil palm.
Oil palm (Elaeis guineensis Jacq.) is an economically important long-term perennial crop in south-east Asia and the Pacific (Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands), providing much needed income to both large plantations and smallholders. Basal stem rot, caused by the fungus Ganoderma boninense, threatens the oil palm industry, and its incidence increases with each successive planting.
The only viable long-term control of basal stem rot is to use more resistant planting material. A previous project (PC/2007/039) established a field trial of more than 2,000 oil palm progenies from various crosses. The project was extended to the end of September 2013; only three palms with possible early BSR symptoms had been identified by then. To identify susceptible, and thus undesirable, germplasm requires twice yearly sampling for at least six years after planting.
Because the infection takes several years to manifest itself, this project has only recently started to detect diseased plants in the experimental populations. The project will monitor the experimental site for many years and identify the most susceptible genotypes.