Agricultural inspectors making a sweep of country’s avocado trees

Costa Rican plant health officials cut off the importation of the popular Mexican Hass avocados because of the presence of a viral disease in that and in a few other countries.

This was  a controversial action, and importers immediately saw it as a protectionist action. Avocado prices have soared.

The disease involved is called mancha de sol in Spanish and sun blotch in English. It is caused by a viroid which can stunt plant growth and cause other problems.  The disease is present  in the United States, too, and there are established sanitary

measures for handling it, according to Web sites.

Now the claim has been made that sun blotch already is present in Costa Rica.

So the Servicio Fitosanitario del Estado of the Ministerio de Agricultura y Ganadería has mustered a small army to check tree by tree avocado plantings in the Los Santos zone where it says 93 percent of the country’s crop is produced.

Some 100 technicians are checking trees on about 2,000 hectares, nearly 5,000 acres, for signs of the disease. Results will be made known next month, the agency said.

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