The challenges of growing food in a tropical climate, in a unconventional region (mining) and on a area with more than 15 years of cattle farming history. Are that the existing environment is unbalanced. Consequently we face more than just a few plagues and pest. Which we believe is important sharing this challenging process with you, so that you get a better understanding of organic agriculture in a tropical climate. Keep in mind that it does vary a lot depending of the exact micro climate. Within the PermaTree farm we have more than a dozen of different microclimates. Microclimatic conditions depend on such factors as temperature, humidity, wind and turbulence, dew, frost (non-existent in our region), heat balance, and evaporation. The effect of soil type on microclimates is considerable.
Some people believe that tropical farming is this romantic thing … where you throw around a few seeds and lie around in the hammock for a few weeks and can start harvesting. Nothing could be further from reality. 🙂
Definition of the word: Pest
A pest is an animal or plant detrimental to humans or human concerns including crops, livestock, and forestry. The term is also used of organisms that cause a nuisance, such as in the home. An older usage is of a deadly epidemic disease, specifically plague. In its broadest sense, a pest is a competitor of humanity.Wikipedia
The morning of the 5th December 2018 we had two Engineers: Willam and Mauricio visiting us from the Agrocalidad BPA (Buenas Praticas Agricolas) within the MAG (Ministerio de Agricultura de Zamora Chinchipe) at the farm. Which are helping to identify which are the main roots of the issues we have with some of the tropical fruits we are growing.
The following crops have been investigated: (1) Theobroma cacao (2) Soursop (3) Papaya (4) Pineapple (5) Rollina Deliciosa (6) Banana (7) Chonta duro palm/ palmito (8) Coco palm (9) Avocados and (10) Tobacco. After 15 days we received the laboratory analysis from Loja…
This blog article will be edited when information is available to share. We cannot share the learnings yet because we are still in the process of learning which are the most successful solutions. As usual. Stay tuned.
Overview of the Fruit Analysis
01. Cacao (Theobroma Cacao)
- Moniliophthora roreri – Frosty Pod Rot is considered the main pathogenic factor affecting the cocoa crops in Colombia and in other Central and South America countries.
- Phytophthora – Cocoa black pod caused by several species of Phytophthora is one of the most serious diseases affecting cocoa (Theobroma cacao) production. Disease occurs in all cocoa growing areas; P. megakarya is most destructive in Central and West Africa whereas P. capsici is most common in Central and South America
- Moniliophthora perniciosa – “escoba de bruja” witches’ broom disease in flower cushions of Theobroma Cacao branches. One of the most devastating cocoa diseases in South America; disease is widespread throughout South America, the Caribbean and Panama; spread of disease greatly influenced by humidity with emergence favored by high temperature and high humidity (>80%).
- “Conga” Giant Ant – They ants just dig a hole into the Cocoa pod and eat it empty and use it as shelter.
02. Soursop (Annona Muricata)
- Leaf Analisys: Colletatrichum sp and Sephaleuros sp.
- Soursop Insect Analysis: Lepidoptera Coccidae Ceroplastes sp.
- Escama (insecto chupador)
- SOLUTION: One of the best solutions has been so far – fermentation of any available spices. We used local available pepper, garlic and chili. All in the blender and then let it ferment in a glass jar for 14 days.
03. Papaya (Carica papaya)
- Asperosporium (black spots) – The disease is characterized by small, black colored, well-isolated spots on the lower surface of leaves of the lower half of the crown, the intensity of the disease was high in the more mature leaves. The disease was severe during wet weather and the diseased plants fully recovered during prolonged dry spells. The disease appears to be of considerable importance as it reduces photosynthesis area of the leaf affecting the vigor, yield etc. and results in premature fruit drop when young fruits are infected.
- Black rot (Phoma sp.) – Phoma species are phytopathogens that are widely distributed in the environment, most commonly found in aquatic systems and soil. Phoma spp. have the potential to be pathogenic in plants, animals and humans; the latter is a rare occurrence. However, as our immunocompromised population increases, so do the reports of these infections. Medical advances have allowed for the increase in solid organ transplantation; chemotherapies to treat malignancies; and the use of other immunosuppressive agents, which have resulted in a greater population at risk when exposed to diverse fungi including Phoma spp. These fungi have been isolated from water sources, food, and crops; thus acting as opportunistic pathogens when the right host is exposed. Phoma spp. contaminates common food sources such as potatoes and maize, a common species isolated being Phoma sorghina. Though there is potential for causing infection via consumption of contaminated foods, there is insufficient data detailing what levels of organism can lead to an infection, and a regulated process for detecting the organism. The spectrum of disease is wide, depending on the host, ranging from cutaneous infections to invasive diseases. Mortality, however, remains low.
- Anthracnose – The most common and important post-harvest disease is Anthracnose which occurs as brown sunken spots on the surface of fruit which can enlarge into unsightly water-soaked areas. It can also occur as multiple small spots often referred to as ‘chocolate spot’. Anthracnose infections occur when the fruit is young and immature but the rot only becomes evident as the fruit ripens.
- SOLUTION: LECHE solo al fruto cada 15dias
04. Pineapple (Ananas comosus)
- Fusarium guttiforme & Penicillium funiculosum (Fruitlet core rot – green eye) – This is an internal fruit disease. Smooth Cayenne fruits do not usually show any external symptoms. However the fruit of the rough-leaf (Mauritius) may produce fruitlets that fail to color – a condition often referred to as „green eye‟. Severely affected fruitlets may become brown and sunken as the fruit ripens. Internal symptoms consist of a browning of the centre of the fruitlets starting below the floral cavity and sometimes extending to the core. The browning, which remains quite firm, varies in size from a speck to complete discoloration of one or more fruitlets.
- Phytophthora (heart rot) – Is a Fungal disease. The disease affects a range of economic groups, such as food crops such as avocado and pineapple and can cause root rot and dieback on Fraser firs, shortleaf pines, loblolly pines, azaleas, camellia, boxwood, and many other trees and woody ornamentals.
05. Rollina Deliciosa (Rollinia deliciosa)
- Insecto ataca la fruta
- Trampas caseras mediante melaza 250ml, 25gr borax, 750ml agua =1L remedio cazero. 1 ventana en la botella 3x3cm, 1/4 lleno de liquido.
- Trampas para mosca de la fruta. 1 por hectárea. En 2019.
06. Guineo Ceda / Banana (Musa × paradisiaca)
- Mycosphaerella / Black Sigatoka / Pan-tropical Black leaf streak disease (BLSD) – Caused by the fungus Pseudocercospora fijiensis, formerly known as Mycosphaerella fijiensis. The disease does not immediately kill banana plants, but by interfering with photosynthesis it can negatively impact bunch weight. Under favorable conditions for the fungus, and without chemical control, no functional leaf might be left at harvest and as a result yields can be reduced by 35 to 50%. BLSD also shortens the fruit’s green life, the time between harvest and ripening. Fruits harvested from heavily infected plants ripen prematurely and unevenly, and as a result become unsuitable for export. The need to control the fungus to a level that does not affect the export of the fruit makes it the most economically important leaf disease of banana. High levels of BLSD severity have also been shown to increase susceptibility to crown rot disease
- Cordana sp. – The Cordana leaf spot is a disease of banana that, even though it is common worlwide, has generally little impact on production. It is caused by two Neocordana fungi that are often found as secondary invaders of leaf lesions caused by other fungi.
- SOLUTION: Podas limar todas hojas viejas . Dejas 6 plus ojalá bandera. Hijuelas (dejar 3 hijuelos)
07. Chontaduro / Palmito (Bactris gasipaes)
- Insect: plaga “picudo” de palmito – rinchonpuros palmero
- Termites build their house vertically on the palm
- Possible solucion: “Coronar las matas”
08. Coco (Cocos nucifera)
- Oryctes rhinoceros / Coconut rhinoceros beetle – V-shaped cuts in palm fronds or holes in leaf midribs caused by beetles boring into crown to feed; adult insect is a large black beetle with a curved spine on its head; larvae are creamy white grubs with brown heads and 3 sets of prolegs at the anterior (head) end.
- Root wilt disease (RWD) – caused by phytoplasma is one of the most devasting diseases of coconut palms. The major symptoms of the disease in leaves are wilting and drooping and flaccidity; ribbing, paling/yellowing and necrosis of leaflets are typical symptoms of foliar diseases. Unopened pale yellow leaflets of spindle leaves are more susceptible to leaf rot disease, which is caused by Exerohilum rostratum and Colletotrichum gloeosporioides. RWD is caused by phytoplasmas, the cell wall-less prokaryotes that are bounded by a ‘‘unit’’ membrane. In ultrathin sections, they appear as a complex multi-branched, beaded, filamentous or spheroidal pleomorphic bodies. The disease was transmitted by plant hoppers (Proutista moesta) and lace wing bug (Stephanitis typica). Phytoplasmas are generally present in the phloem sieve tubes and in the salivary glands of these insect vectors.
- Solution: “avispas parasitarias” en catamyo ingenio monterey (azucarera)
09. Avocado (Persea americana)
- Twig girdler beetles – As the names suggests, these insect pests chew the bark around small branches.
- “Moroja” Partamona, Apidae – Endemic stingless bees seem to be sucking up the sugar of the avocado…
- Caterpillars (larvae) – All sorts of caterpillars eating the avocado leafs
10. Tobacco (Nicotiana rustica)
- Leafcutter Ants devouring the tabacco leafs
Soil Analysis Results (2018)
Soil analysis tells us that our soil very hight in iron. And the soil is acidic like moist soil in the region.
- Main soil type – Ultisol – red clay with high mineral content
- Some areas containing higher OM than others
- Historically used as pasture land for over 10 years
Most of the soil sampling points have pH figures of slightly acidic to acidic (lower than pH 7). Which are in accordance with those found in the agronomic studies of those soils. Turning to edaphological characteristics of soils, the predominant type in the area is Typic Dystrundepts which is found to have texture profiles from loam to silty loam, with high water retention capacity. Consequently poor in available nutrients. In addition, as mentioned above, the soils are generally acid. Therefore, they have a low level of natural fertility, which limits their use in farming. Additionally, most of the prospected soils have low permeability.
This category is associated with feasible use (F); normally on the terraces of the Zamora River and areas difficult to access, steep slope areas, such as the high hills that contain natural vegetation with minimal disturbance.