New funding will lead to better downy mildew control on basil

A new funding opportunity to improve knowledge and control of downy mildew on protected and outdoor basil crops has been launched by the Horticultural Development Company (HDC). The tender, developed in response to the needs of British Herb Trades Association members, will directly generate research data on the epidemiology and control of Basil downy mildew, with outcomes focused on communicating best practice for controlling the pathogen in horticultural crops.

In 2009, Peronospara belbahrii, the causal organism of downy mildew on Basil, was identified in the UK, and in 2010 it was confirmed on a number of nurseries in south east England in sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum). Initially the disease was given quarantine status by DEFRA and infected crops were subject to statutory action. The quarantine was lifted in 2012 but the economically damaging outbreaks of downy mildew continue to occur despite some control being provided by crop protection products. Cathryn Lambourne, Research and Knowledge Exchange Manager for HDC said, “The UK fresh basil industry is highly valuable and this recurring issue is having a major effect on growers. We hope that with this focused study we will be able to better understand downy mildew disease on basil, as well as help growers to understand and better manage the problem. The research could also have a wider application by helping us to understand downy mildew control methods on other plants.”

The project, expected to run for 1-2 years is worth approximately £30k a year. The deadline for proposals is 31 May 2015 with projects to commence on 1 August 2015. For full information on the tender and the application procedure, please visit the HDC tender page.

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