France: Research to fight lavender diseases
The culture of lavender and lavandin has been a traditional activity in South-East France for several centuries and is today part of some of the most scenic landscapes of the Provence region. However, this emblematic crop is threatened by diseases and pests.
Cecidomyia (midge) is one of the major pests of lavender and lavandin. This insect’s larvae feed on the sap of the plant and cause a progressive desiccation of affected branches. The damage is cumulative over years and significantly reduces the productivity and lifespan of affected plants. The phytosanitary product currently used to contain cecidomyia is being challenged and so there is a need to develop alternative natural solutions.
We support CRIEPPAM, a research organisation specialising in aromatic, fragrant and medicinal plants, in its efforts to develop new approaches based on a better understanding of the insect’s life cycle, in particular a hatching forecasting strategy using meteorological data and early blooming almond trees as indicators.
Stolbur’s phytoplasma is another major threat to lavender and lavandin that weakens the plant and gradually leads to its decay. We support the implementation of prevention methods to counter the effects of the disease.
We decided to help the FiBL (Research Institute of Organic Agriculture, Switzerland) in research activities for the control of the phytoplasm-driven lavender disease. For instance, leafhoppers have a preference for dry conditions and so the use of moderate irrigation to interfere with their development cycle is investigated. Furthermore, FiBL scientists are looking for natural predators of the disease-transferring insects in order to foster their presence in lavender fields.
“Bringing together the know-how of producers, the expertise of FiBL and Givaudan is a real plus. This three-sided collaboration is very relevant and should be repeated.”
Felix Heckendorn, Lavender Programme Lead, FiBL