Pineapple is vegetatively propagated, utilizing crowns, slips or suckers (Fig. 9.7). In general, these 'seed materials' are infested with the same pests as were present on the mother plants. The movement of seed materials from field to field or country to country has been the primary means of spread of the major pineapple pests and diseases (Rohrbach, 1983). Common pests infesting seed materials are mealybugs, scale and pineapple red mites. In addition to these pests, the diseases termed butt rot and Fusarium stem rot may be major problems when handling, storing or planting fresh seed materials. In the past 10 years, two types of plant viruses have been identified in pineapple, a closterovirus and a bacilliform
(Gunasinghe and German, 1989; Thomson et al., 1996). These viruses have been shown to occur in most pineapple plants with or without symptoms of mealybug wilt in several different countries (Sether and Hu, 1998). Recent evidence indicates that the closter-ovirus may actually consist of a group of viruses (J. Hu, personal communication). The role of these viruses in mealybug wilt has not been conclusively defined. Pest- and disease-free seed materials are critical to maintaining uniform and optimum plant growth throughout the pineapple cycle.
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