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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Claire Woodward, Lee Hansen, Fleur Beckwith, Regina S. Redman and Rusty J. Rodriguez
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