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All the latest news on Starke Ayres’ vegetable seed varieties, and the success that commercial vegetable seed farmers have achieved using them.

This page will also be updated with new seed variety releases and other commercial seed industry news.

Starke Ayres Combination of Fusarium Race 3 and virus resistances expands tomato range.

Fusarium wilt is a disease well-known to tomato farmers. Previously discussed at length, the disease seems now to be prevalent in most major tomato growing areas of South Africa.  Together with increasing pressure from viruses such as Tomato curly stunt virus (ToCSV) and Tomato spotted wilt virus (TSWV), the need for a combination of resistances is clear.

Most commercial varieties currently available in South Africa carry the I-2 gene, responsible for resistance to Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. lycopersici (Fol) races 1 & 2. In recent times these varieties have shown an increasing incidence of a disease characterised by yellowing and wilting typical of Fusarium wilt. Material carrying the I-3 gene responsible for resistance to Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. lycopersici race 3 (Fol-3) was recently trialled alongside current (I-2 carrying) commercial standards. Varieties with the I-3 gene were not affected by the disease while the standards exhibited typical symptoms.  Two of these trial varieties will be commercialized, one of which is a saladette and the other a round. Both are determinate and have resistance to Fol-3 and some of the more common virus diseases.

*CASSANDRA is a determinate saladette for the fresh and informal markets. It has early to medium maturity, taking around 80 days to first harvest. Plant growth is compact with a concentrated set and harvest period of around 6 – 8 weeks. The variety has very large, blocky, egg-shaped fruits weighing between 140 and 160 g. CASSANDRA has high resistance to Verticilium wilt (Va/Vd), Fusarium wilt (Fol: 1-3), Tobacco Mosaic Virus (TMV), Tomato yellow leaf curl virus (TYLCV), ToCSV and intermediate resistance to root-knot nematodes (Ma/Mi/Mj), bacterial speck (Pst) and TSWV.

*ZOEY is a determinate round tomato variety for the fresh and informal markets. It has early maturity of 75-80 days to first harvest. The variety has a compact growth habit with a concentrated set and harvest period of around 4-6 weeks. ZOEY has a deep oblate fruit shape with an average weight between 140 and 160 g. It has high resistance to Va/Vd, Fol: 1-3, TMV, TYLCV, ToCSV and intermediate resistance to Ma/Mi/Mj.

Seed of both these varieties are available from STARKE AYRES or your area specific sales representative. or call on 0860 782 753.

Measures to limit the impact of Fusarium Wilt include:

  1. Crop Rotation -Fusarium is widespread and persists for several years in soil, a long crop rotation (4 to 6 years) is necessary to reduce populations.
  2. Hygiene - wherever practical, infested plant material should be removed and destroyed after harvest.
  3. Management – should aim to maintain a high level of plant vigour with appropriate fertilization and irrigation, but avoid over-irrigation, particularly early in the season.
  4. Planning - If soils are severely infested, future production of Solanaceous crops may be difficult.
  5. Water quality - the pathogen can be present in irrigation water. In this case water needs to treated or filtered (the micro conidia of F. oxysporum can be as small as 2.5 μm).
  6. Use of resistant varieties.                                            



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