New pamphlet takes stock of some honeybush diseases

by Engela Duvenage, 28 January 2021


The Agricultural Research Council (ARC) has compiled a new pamphlet containing know how and photographs about the most common diseases that cause dieback, pruning wounds and young shoot infections in plantations of Cyclopia. Control measures are also highlighted.

The information it contains is partly the result of a disease survey on 3 to 5 year old Cyclopia genistoides, C. longifolia and C. subternata plants in various plantations in the Southern Cape. The survey was conducted in 2018 by Dr Trevor Koopman and Ms Louise Smit of the ARC.

The survey showed that most of the diseases and symptoms noted are caused by fungal trunk pathogens, notably Botryosphaeria and Diaporthe species. Typical symptoms of such diseases include plant shoots developing black tips, the dieback of individual shoots and the development of dieback cankers.

"These symptoms cause slow growth, leads to less plant material being available to harvest and often also the death of plants," says Dr Cecilia Bester of the ARC's Honeybush Project, who assisted in drafting the text and layout.

No fungicides are currently registered for use on honeybush. Disease infections can be managed by preventative and cultivation control measures used in nurseries and plantations. Improved cultivation practices such as the removal of infected plants can also help to minimise the impact of pathogen infection in the plantations.

The pamphlet has already been distributed electronically (download pdf ) to honeybush farmers, while printed copies will be available in due course.

"It forms part of efforts of the ARC to provide quality, research based information to the industry," says Dr Bester.

The pamphlet was funded by the Foundational Biodiversity Information Programme (FBIP), through support from the Department of Science and Innovation, the National Research Foundation and the South African National Biodiversity Institute.