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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The potential threat of branched broomrape for California processing tomato: A review


Branched broomrape (Phelipanche ramosa), a parasitic weed that was the focus of a $1.5 million eradication effort four decades ago in California, has recently re-emerged in tomato fields in several Central Valley counties. Processing tomatoes are important to the California agricultural economy; the state produced over 90% of the 12 million tons of tomatoes grown in the United States in 2018. Branched broomrape is listed as an “A” noxious weed by the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA); discovery of broomrape in California tomato fields leads to quarantine and crop destruction without harvest, resulting in significant economic loss to growers. In countries where broomrape is common, yield reductions caused by this parasitic weed can range from moderate to 80%, depending upon the infestation level, host and environmental conditions. Developing a detailed understanding of the biology of this weed under local conditions is an important step towards developing effective management plans for California. In this review, we discuss branched broomrape in the context of California production systems, particularly of tomato. We also discuss the potential management practices that could help to prevent or reduce the impacts of branched broomrape in tomatoes and other host crops.

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