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John A. Muir and Richard S. Hunt

Introductions of white pine blister rust (WPBR, causal fungus: Cronartium ribicola J.C. Fischer) to eastern and western North America before 1915 caused such extensive damage that western white pine (Pinus monticola D. Don) was essentially abandoned as a manageable forest tree species for over 60 years. Recent results from WPBR resistance selection and breeding programs, and from field trials of tree spacing, pruning and bark excision treatments have supported efforts to increase establishment and to intensively manage western white pine. Western white pine is a desirable component in many forested areas because of its faster growth and much higher value compared to many other associated tree species. It also has a low susceptibility to armillaria root disease caused by Armillaria ostoyae (Romagnesi) Herink and laminated root rot, caused by Phellinus weirii (Murr.) Gilb. Some regulations, e.g., Forest Practices Code of British Columbia (BC) Act, require anyone who harvests timber on provincial forestland and uses western white pine for reforestation to either plant genetically resistant western white pine stock or prune susceptible young trees for protection. Risks of increased WPBR associated with increased commercial cultivation of gooseberries and currants (Ribes L.) have yet to be determined. However, major threats appear to include 1) increase in local amounts of spores for nearby infection of pines; and 2) possible introductions or development of new, virulent races of C. ribicola, particularly from eastern to Pacific northwestern North America. In view of these possible threats, we recommend that existing regulations and legislation should be amended, or possibly new measures enacted, to permit propagation and commercial cultivation only of varieties of Ribes that are immune or highly resistant to WPBR.

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Danny L. Barney

During the 1800s and early 1900s, red and white currants (Ribes L. subgenus Ribes), black currants (Ribes subgenus Coreosma), and gooseberries (Ribes subgenus Grossularia) were grown commercially in the United States. Because Ribes serve as alternative hosts of white pine blister rust (Cronartium ribicola J. C. Fischer) (WPBR), which was introduced from Europe, the federal government and many states either banned or severely restricted currant and gooseberry production beginning about 1933. The development of WPBR resistant pines and black currants (the most susceptible cultivated Ribes) renewed interest in commercial Ribes production. Climatic and soil conditions in selected areas of the U.S. inland northwest and intermountain west (INIW) are favorable for commercial currant and gooseberry production. Challenges to the establishment of a Ribes industry are labor, marketing, diseases, and pests. Careful site and cultivar selection are critical for successful commercial production. This article describes Ribes opportunities and risks associated with currant and gooseberry production in the INIW. The region includes Idaho and surrounding areas in Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.

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Ed Mashburn

In North America for many years the commonly held solution to white pine blister rust (Cronartium ribicola J.C. Fischer) (WPBR) was to eradicate all currants and gooseberries (Ribes L.). That approach was tried to no avail. Can currants and gooseberries be successfully grown in North America? You bet they can! Vast areas of the United States and Canada are ideal for Ribes production. Black currants (Ribes nigrum L.) are a processed fruit and production may compare to that of grain. Many of the areas that presently grow other berries could easily grow Ribes. The main barriers for production in North America are state restrictions and the availability of up-to-date information and data for growers, processors, legislators and the consuming public. I suggest that this conference and the people herein form that task group and initiate the cooperative dialogue and set forth a process to approach the WPBR problem in a holistic manner.

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Margie Luffman

The search for appropriate white pine blister rust (WPBR) (Cronartium ribicola J.C. Fischer) resistant germplasm to use in black currant (Ribes nigrum L.) breeding programs began in 1935 in Ottawa. Crosses were made in 1938 and 1939 with three different Ribes L. species and two standard black currant cultivars. The resulting seedlings from these crosses were evaluated for rust resistance. Three promising selections resulted from this program and were named `Coronet', `Crusader' and `Consort'.

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M.E. Ostry

White pine blister rust (Cronartium ribicola J.C. Fisch.) (WPBR) was discovered on Ribes L. in New York in 1906, although it was accidentally introduced from Europe on pine (Pinus L.) seedlings. The spread of this destructive fungus has changed the forests in North America. After decades of reduced planting because of the concern over the impact of WPBR, white pine (Pinus strobus L.) is now being restored in the lake states of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. Although the potential for growing white pine is high on many sites, the disappearance of a seed source because of logging and fires means that reestablishment of white pine to these areas will require active management. A series of plantings have been established on three national forests in Minnesota and Michigan to evaluate various silvicultural treatments intended to minimize the incidence of WPBR and to compare the performance of seedlings selected for disease resistance to nonselected planting stock.

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Bohun B. Kinloch Jr.

After a century since introduction to North America from Europe, white pine blister rust, caused by Cronartium ribicola J.C. Fisch., is recognized as one of the catastrophic plant disease epidemics in history. It has not yet stabilized and continues to spread and intensify. Its nine native white pine hosts comprise major timber producers, important watershed protectors, keystone ecological species, and the oldest trees on earth. All are highly susceptible and some have been damaged severely in parts of their native range, as well as where they have been planted as exotics. Resistance, the most promising approach to control, requires understanding of genetic interactions between hosts and pathogen, a quest that has been ongoing for half a century. Unlike other hosts of spectacular exotic diseases, such as chestnut blight [caused by Cryphonectria parasitica (Murrill) M.E. Barr] and dutch elm disease [caused by Ophiostoma ulmi (Buisman) Nannf.], white pines (Pinus L.) exhibit a surprising number of resistance mechanisms to blister rust, if at only low frequencies. There are three main kinds:

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Adam Dale

Fruit from black, red and white currants, and gooseberries (Ribes L.) were grown commercially in North America at the beginning of the 20th Century. However, when white pine blister rust (WPBR) (Cronartium ribicola J. C. Fisch.) was introduced into the new world, their cultivation was discontinued. About 825,000 t (908,000 tons) of Ribes fruit are produced worldwide, almost entirely in Europe. The fruit is high in vitamin C, and is used to produce juice, and many other products. Now a wide range of imported Ribes products is available particularly in Canada, and the pick-your-own (PYO) market is increasing. Two diseases, powdery mildew [Spaerotheca mors-uvae (Schwein.) Berk. & Curt.] and WPBR, are the major problems encountered by growers. Fortunately, many new cultivars are resistant to these two diseases. Commercial acreage of Ribes in North America is located where the growing day degrees above 5 °C (41 °F), and the annual chilling hours are at least 1200. Initially, the Ribes industry will develop as PYO and for farm markets. But for a large industry to develop, juice products will needed. Our costs of production figures indicate that about 850 Canadian dollars ($CDN) per 1.0 t (1.1 tons) of fruit will be required to break even.

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Z.M. Azbukina

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Detlev R. Vogler