'Olive ebola' disease threatens Mallorca wine industry

THREAT: Mallorca’s famous wine industry in peril after findings.

‘OLIVE EBOLA’ is now threatening Mallorca’s wine industry.

The dangerous plant pathogen Xylella Fastidiosa has infected at least 14 vineyards across the island. The contagious disease has already infected hundreds of olive and almond trees.

It is dubbed ‘ebola’ because it is extremely contagious and kills almost all trees in its path. Positive identification of the disease on grapevines have been made in Sant Llorenc, Felantix, Sencelles, and Manacor.

At present the outbreaks are restricted to small, private vineyards. If the disease is confirmed on large scale wine producing estates the results could be catastrophic for the island’s wine industry.

EU scientists recently left Mallorca after evaluating the damage done to olive trees. They concluded that it will be necessary to cull and burn thousands of trees in order to stave off the spread of the disease.

When the bacteria first arrived in Europe in 2013, Italy lost one million olive trees.

Agriculture minister Vicenc Vidal has held an emergency meeting with the affected wine growers and the island’s larger producers. They have agreed on a containment plan which may still be feasible if the bacteria is restricted to small holdings. Vidal himself has come in for heavy criticism after ecologists revealed that the bacteria may have been festering on Mallorca for up to 10 years. Earlier action may have prevented what is almost certain to be a disastrous few years for olive, almond and potentially wine producers.

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