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Last modified: 4 December 2005

Contacts or sources of information - Piero Bianco; Université Notre Dame d'Haiti,Uder des Cayes, Faculté d'Agronomie, Redon, Torbeck, Les Cayes, Haiti; Felix Saint Pierre; Donata Naldini

Occurrence - La pourriture du burgeon terminal or "Bud rot" of coconut was reported by Roumain & Piere-Louis (1945) and Roumain (1945) as being present in the region between St Louis du Nord and Anse à Fôleur since at least 1937 and as being active in north and north-western agricultural districts and Gonaïves where (in 1944) it was spreading rapidly. It was recorded from the same areas by Ollagnier & Weststeijn (1961) who gave an unattributed report that it had been in the region of Cap Haïtien since 1880.

Spread - A chapter on coconut in a book on the trees of Haiti (Timyan, 1996) states that the first area of infection extended from Cap-Haïtien to Ouaminthe and reached into the interior at Camp Coq, about 10km south of Limbé and refers to a report by Morin (1977) that LY had been seen in northern Haiti since the mid-1950s, though it may have been in the country much earlier. It also has a map showing the distribution of coconuts in Haiti and the progression of lethal yellowing (with dates). The disease was reported as well developed in the Port-de-Paix area (Theobald, 1989). During the latter part of the 1980s the disease spread to the southern coast of the northwest peninsula at Baie-de-Henne, traversed the Artibonite. By 1992 LY had progressed to the southern peninsula at points between Port-au-Prince and Leogâne. As far as is known, LY has not reached the Cayes plain, though it has progressed as far as Petit Goave along the coast of the southen peninsula. As soon as it reaches the plains of the southern peninsula (Les Anglais, Cayes, Torbeck) it could become epidemic.

Currently active areas - North-east border close to Dajabon in Dominican Republic. In March 1999, in Les Cayes, a little town in the southwest of Haiti, several cases of yellowing on coconut trees were observed. In those areas the symptoms above described are commonly attributed to nutrient deficiency while in other cases the symptoms (yellowing and hanging down of the leaves associated with very frequent top necrosis) may resemble something different. Unfortunately those cases were observed only during a couple of visit in field. Also an accurate observation of symptoms of the crown should be done.

Suspected new outbreaks - None confirmed

Other palm/plant hosts - Not reported

New hosts, new vectors, new strains or suspected loss of resistance

Research projects - Two field exposure trials were established at Grand Prè and Levy in 1976 (Timyan, 1996, quoting an "International Resources Group Inc" evaluation). By 1989 the trial at Levy had no losses from LY but several palms were missing to unknown causes and two palms showed typical bud rot symptoms. The data presented for the Grand Prè trial are unhelpful because they show 1-5% current (1989) losses to LY and 15-42% dead from unspecified causes over a thirteen year period. As with the Levy trial, some (or many) of those dead at Grand Prè might be missing from unknown causes or from bud rot.

Rehabilitation/replanting programmes

Economic importance/threat - Coconut is considered a promising crop for Haiti and, from now on, the Haitian Agricultural Ministry will expand this cultivation probably by import of new varieties from abroad .

The following information was extracted from a report written in 1977 and kindly provided by the author J-P Morin.

Le "jaunissement mortel" ou "Léthal Yellowing"

C'est une maladie grave qui peut affecter les arbres de tous âges en entraînent leur mort.

Le premier symptôme est la chute prématurée des noix. En même temps, les jeunes inflorescences se nécrosent, noircissent et sèchent. Survient ensuite le jaunissement des feuilles inférieures puis des feuilles plus hautes. La mort de l'arbre arrive 3 à 6 mois après les premiers symptômes.

Cette maladie encore tres mal connue est due à des organismes de type mycoplasme transmis vraisemblablement par un insecte qui n'a pas encore été identifié.

Elle sévit surtout en Jamaique et en Florida.

En Haïti, nous l'avons rencontrée à Cap Haïtien où nous avons pu voir trois arbres malades. Les restes d'arbres morts (stipes dressés dépourvous de courronnes foliares) sont rares car ils sont régulièrement supprimés en sorte que l'importance et la gravité de cetter maladie ne sont pas directement visibles comme en Jamaïque où les arbres morts demeurent en place plusieurs années.

Cette maladie est pourtant bien répandue dans toute la plaine du Nord jusqu'à  la frontière dominicaine. On la rencontre autour de Limbé jusqu'à Camp Coq. Il ne semble pas qu'elle ait passé la chaîne de montagne de Belance qui isole cette Région Nord du reste du pays. Cette maladie qui est connue depuis une vingtaine d'années, est, dans cette région, la cause principale de la disparition des cocotiers. les ravage semblent actuellement plus importants dans le secteur de Ouanaminthe. Malheureusement, aucune observation n'est faite et l'on ne connait pas le taux moyen annuel de mortalité.

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