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May 5, 2000

Lab Tests Indicate Banana Virus May Be More Widespread on Kauai

Honolulu - The Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) reports that new lab results indicate that the Banana Bunchy Top Virus (BBTV) has been found in two other areas of Kauai besides the Kapahi area. Lab results showing positive for the virus came from banana plants in the Kalihiwai area, north of Kilauea and in the Wailua Homestead area, south of Kapahi.

A team of agricultural officials will continue to survey the new areas next week. In the meantime, the HDOA is recommending that farmers and residents destroy banana plants that exhibit BBTV symptoms. However, it is important that plants are not moved from where they stand to avoid further spread of the disease.

Symptoms of BBTV include young leaves that are stunted, resulting in a bunchy appearance. Leaf edges are yellowish and may curl upward. Lower leaf stems and midribs may exhibit streaks, which are darker in color. As the disease progresses, streaking can be found on plant leaves. Infected banana plants produce small, deformed fruits; and in advanced stages, banana plants do not produce any fruit. Banana plants may also carry the virus without showing obvious signs of infection. There are no chemicals that can prevent or cure BBTV.

If residents on Kauai suspect their plants have the disease, call HDOA's Kauai office at 274-3069 or the HDOA's Plant Pest Control Branch on Oahu at (808) 973-9522.