Boxwoods are the mainstays of landscapes in many historical sites across the commonwealth as well as an important nursery crop. The annual wholesale market value for boxwood nursery production is $103 million.
However, growers and researchers are concerned that boxwood blight could potentially decimate English and American boxwood populations along the East Coast if precautions to curb the spread of the disease are not followed.
Boxwood blight is caused by a fungal pathogen that renders the plant’s leaves brown and dry. The fungus can rapidly defoliate boxwood plants, making the plants unsuitable for commercial sale, leading to plant death, and wiping out ornamental landscapes. The disease spreads primarily via plant materials and soil from infected plants. The pathogen produces sticky spores that attach to plant containers, tools, vehicles, and shoes and clothing.
Mike Jahncke works with a Virginia Tech student at the Virginia Seafood AREC to find ways to increase aquaculture production around the state.
Some reports estimate that the U.S. imports as much as 90 percent of its seafood, making the trade deficit for seafood second only to oil among natural resource deficits in United States.
The research being conducted at the Virginia Seafood Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Hampton could change that. Not only does the research encourage growth of Virginia’s aquaculture industry, it also helps to maintain a safe seafood supply nationwide.
Virginia has seen particularly strong growth in the oyster industry and produced more than 500,000 bushels in the last year — a quantity that represents a 25 percent increase over the previous year and has not been seen in almost a generation.
One focus of researchers at the Virginia Seafood AREC is the control of pathogens, such as vibrios, in raw oysters.