APHIS has confirmed Ralstonia solanacearum race 3 biovar 2 in wilted geraniums in two additional commercial greenhouses in Michigan. This brings the total number of greenhouses found with geraniums infected with this bacterial pathogen to six, including four in Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin. All greenhouses received infected propagative material from the Goldsmith Plants, Inc. facilities located in Kenya.
It appears that several hundred customers of Goldsmiths may be impacted, and PPQ is currently conducting trace forward activities to determine the location of the shipments in the United States. APHIS has implemented a prohibition for all geranium nursery stock from Kenya effective February 14. APHIS has sent officials to investigate the source production site for the infection. Shipments of regulated plants from the affected greenhouses are being suspended until PPQ ascertains that tests for the presence of the pathogen are negative. Contaminated U.S. greenhouses will not be allowed to move plants until PPQ-approved procedures are used both to destroy plants and disinfect greenhouses.
The Ralstonia detections and subsequent APHIS action coincide with key shipping times for geraniums for both Kenyan interests and the domestic greenhouse industry. APHIS is making every effort to implement its emergency response to ensure that U.S. potatoes and other solanaceous plants are safeguarded, and to minimize adverse impact on the geranium industry.
R. solanacearum race 3 biovar causes wilt in geraniums (Pelargonium), is highly destructive to potatoes, and infects numerous other solanaceous plants (e.g. tomatoes, eggplant, and chile peppers). The pathogen is cited on USDA's Agricultural Bioterrorism Act of 2002 Select Agents and Toxins list because it is a serious pathogen of potatoes that is not present in the United States. PPQ has no information that indicates the introduction of this pathogen was deliberate but instead resulted from unintentional contamination in the routine importation of geraniums.
For more information about Ralstonia see the following: