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Ecuador - Virus damages melon crops

Armando Ortiz, a farmer from La Sequita, in the Crucita parish, said he had planted 1.5 hectares with melons and had lost around 40% of the fruit.
“It is a problem due to viruses that cause rot in the fruit,” he said, adding that they had been affected by this type of fungus for the past two years.
The farmer said that three out of four fruits produced by each plant were damaged and that there was no chemical available to effectively control this virus.
“The fruit gets a kind of canker and the melon rots,” the farmer said.
Ortiz had to select the fruit to market it in Quito. He said that he gets paid a better price in the capital, with which he managed to recoup his investment. Otherwise, he said, he would only have losses.
Xavier Valencia, the zonal Coordinator of the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, spoke about the virus affecting the crops.
Valencia said the problem had been detected several years ago and that the plague could increase or decrease, depending on climatic factors or on the type of crop.
“We’ve had much more serious problems this year than in other years, and that means that the production of some crops has decreased,” he said.
These crops include melons, watermelons, papaya and other short-cycle crops, the official said.
“Certain pests or insects flourish with the humidity, and that increases the incidence of the virus,” he said, adding that soil’s moisture has increased due to the strong winter recorded this year.
Valencia said that they were providing technical assistance to change farming practices, as farmers often use chemicals that are not useful or in inadequate proportions. In addition, he said, they have not rotated their crops.
The official said they were about to complete the verification of the plantations that were affected by floods, but that he calculated the rains had strongly affected 2,000 to 3,000 hectares of short-cycle crops.

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