Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Chocolate Frosty Pod Rot = World Shortage of Chocolate!

Originally reported by Jennifer Frazer in the Scientific American Journal:
For a long time frosty pod rot was relatively confined to Colombia, Ecuador, and western Venezuela in northwest South America. Since the 1950s, it has spread throughout South and Central America, reaching Panama in 1956, Costa Rica in 1978, Nicaragua in 1980, Peru  in 1988, Honduras in 1997, Guatemala in 2002, Belize in 2004, and Mexico in 2005. It can cause growers to abandon entire cacao plantations, as losses in infected groves can near 100%
Frosty pod rot, along with its close relative witch’s broom of cacao, together have devastated cacao-farming regions in these countries, and “are responsible for the plummet in tropical American cocoa production,” according to a 2005 article in Mycologia. That sounds bad. At least one scientist, according to the authors of the Mycologia article, believes that M. roreri is “still in an invasive phase … and is poised to devastate already crippled production in Bolivia and Brazil, once it arrives in those countries.” Apparently, that is still true in 2013, as the poster that I discovered this pathogen on stated that frosty pod rot is still a “serious threat” to cacao plantations in Bolivia and Brazil, and even West Africa.

Changes in the climate of the areas that grow the world's supplies of chocolate (probably caused by Global Warming) are hitting the crop production and on top of that bad news the stress caused by dryer conditions and changes to the local flora & fauna are stimulating the growth of diseases of the cocao plant, particularly the fungal disease Frosty Pod Rot and other fungal infections.

This provides further evidence of the direct impact fungal diseases have on world economies - and of course to our enjoyment of the crops affected. Shortage of cocao pods will drive the price of chocolate up even further.

A further consequence of this fungal disease is that producers will eventually abandon old, infected growing areas and clear more patches of rainforest on which to grow more. Naturally the destruction of the rainforest will eventually have an impact of global warming! Are we getting into a never ending cycle of destruction??

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