USDA Gives $4.6 Million to Fight Rose Rosette Disease
The United States Department of Agriculture has announced an award of a $4.6 million for a five-year grant to combat rose rosette disease (RRD) a mite borne viral disease that is threatening the U.S. landscape rose industry and could potentially eliminate one of the most popular garden plants from American yards.
The funds are matched by $4.6 million of in-kind and cash contributions from major industry growers and breeders.
The funds will be used to develop best management practices, expand outreach and education efforts and to map genes for RRD resistance in roses.
The funding represents the culmination of a two-year initiative originally conceived and funded by Star Roses and Plants/Conard-Pyle to reach out to key university researchers and industry leaders to recognize and respond to the serious threat that RRD represents.
“We are pleased and delighted that the USDA recognizes the severity of this threat and the importance of roses to the nursery industry and to millions of gardeners who love and grow roses in their home landscapes” says Steve Hutton, president and CEO of Star Roses and Plants/Conard-Pyle.
Dr. Mike Dobres, managing director of NovaFlora LLC, the research and breeding division of Star Roses and Plants/Conard-Pyle has led the charge in many of the initiatives of the past several years regarding RRD.
According to Dobres, “We needed to assemble a dream team. We needed the best science, and to do that we needed the best researchers.”
Ultimately, Dr. David Byrne, Texas A&M University, was chosen to lead the group. The research group working with Dr. Byrne was selected from five leading university and government research centers with a wide geographic distribution, ranging from Texas to Florida, Oklahoma, Delaware and Maryland.
“The beauty of this research approach,” says Dr. Dobres, ” is that it combines both short term cultural solutions as well as long term solutions to breed roses that are resistant to RRD.”