Oil palm is the most widely produced and consumed vegetable oil in developing countries. With around 3.3 tonnes per hectare per year, it is 7 or 8 times more productive than soybean oil. Palm and soybean are the most widely consumed oils worldwide. Indonesia and Malaysia are the worlds leading palm oil producers, with 12 and 14 million tonnes of oil per year respectively. However, a soil fungus, Ganoderma boninense, which causes basal stem rot in oil palms, devastates thousands of hectares of plantings in Southeast Asia every year.
The Ganoderma problem has been known for decades, but the search for solutions has been considerably hampered by a natural constraint: the disease does not cause symptoms until the palms are at least 7 to 15 years old. Until now, the only control method has centred on cropping techniques, notably ploughing before planting and felling of diseased palms during the growing cycle. However, this has had limited results.
In 2001, trials on palms planted between 1974 and 1993 showed that in Indonesia, the mortality rate differed between the main genetic origins used, and also within those origins. The idea was thus to develop an early test of susceptibility to the disease, with a view to selecting sources of resistance as soon as possible.
Frédéric Breton | alfa
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