Phytophthora diseases have long been a problem in commercial forestry in many countries. In South African plantations, the prevalence of Phytophthora infections has grown dramatically in recent years as a result of climate change and various other factors. Sappi, in collaboration with Dr Tanay Bose and Prof. Almuth Hammerbacher from the Tree Protection Co-operative Programme (TPCP), launched numerous disease resistance trials to address this issue.

Dr Bose and Prof. Hammerbacher, along with two CPHB internship students, Mr Kgetise Malele and Mr Welapie Maluleke, and Sappi research program leaders Prof. Jolanda Roux and Mr Wayne Jones, inoculated 19 families of Eucalyptus benthamii with Phytophthora alticola in the week of September 27. The trial will allow Sappi to select tolerant families of E. benthamii as well as to assess the efficiency of Phytophthora inoculation strategies such as sand infection, under-bark inoculation, and leaf inoculation techniques.