Caribbean crop pests – Frosty Pod Rot

The Frosty Pod Rot pathogen Moniliophthora roreri originated in Western Columbia/Ecuador. This pathogen expanded to Africa, Asia, and the Insular Caribbean. The disease devastates the pods of the cocoa plant. pod rot can cause complete crop failure.

The translocation of cocoa pods has been unknowingly or knowingly spreading because of humans via trade or planting. Other ways this plant disease can spread is through exceedingly prolific sporulation and the non-symptomatic phase of the disease which means the pods are still infected but won’t show any symptoms like the white or tan patches. Non-symptomatic pods often lead to pods being discarded in new areas, allowing for infections to spread.

The spores from the diseased cocoa pods, which can come from pruned or harvested cocoa, can remain viable for up to 9 months in areas like clothing, shoes, vehicles, tools etc. Countries that are free from frosty pod or any region must maintain quarantine regulations, aimed at trash or residues that may harbour spores, not just transport.

One of our member countries, the Dominican Republic is one of the world’s largest producers of organic cocoa. To protect its produce, it linked its nationwide diagnostic network with the use of the Caribbean Pest Diagnostic Network previously called CRDN (Caribbean Regional Diagnostic Network). The CPDN is an online database tool that provides communication and collaboration among plant inspectors, scouts, consultants, extension personnel, and diagnosticians to share information on plant pests. The system uses field data and digital media as tools for the enhancement of diagnosis of plant disease, insects, weeds, invasive species, plant management, physiology, and nutrient problems.

Management of this plant disease involves training field officers, as well as farmers in recognizing early symptoms of frosty pod rot, which may help reduce the impact of the disease and save cocoa plantations. Assessments should be conducted regularly to remove all infected pods that have been infected with frosty pod rot. This plant disease has the capability to threaten cocoa supplies if it breaches the continental barrier, and all steps must be taken to prevent its spread.

Read more from our sources below!

CPHD Forum – Frosty Pod Rot

CABI – Moniliophthora roreri (Frosty pod rot)

Caribbean Pest Diagnostic Network – Caribbean Pest Diagnostic Network

PlantWise – Frosty pod rot