Virus testing continues

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Well, I'm continuing in the painful process of weeding out virus from my collection. So far, 32% (7 out of 22) of the plants I have tested (all cattleyas) have been virused and discarded. Pete, I FEEL your pain!! The only good news is, I am testing those that are looking funny in some way, or not growing well, or those I have given away divisions of. How awful to think a gift from me could contaminate someone's collection... Oh, and it seems that (mostly) it's cattleyas and phals are the ones that tend to get the viruses. I've not tested any paphs/phrags and, again, am hoping what I read is correct. I will test those last.
Anyway, I'm hoping (and praying) that the percentages will improve as I move ahead. Terry and I have investigated disinfection techniques for our tools and have decided on a 2 step process of a 5 minute (or more) soak in Sodium Hydroxide, then Virkon S, after scrubbing with detergent and water or Physan 20 to remove any organic debris. What we discovered is that NO one product disinfects from orchid viruses 100%, hence the process. If anyone is interested, I will post the article Terry found.
From what I could find, no one knows how long orchid viruses live on surfaces, but after 5 days, they were still viable. They are non-enveloped viruses, so not destroyed by removing the lipid layer (envelope) surrounding them as many other viruses are. Oh, and I'm washing my hands (even previously disposable gloved hands) with detergent, then using 3% stabilized peroxide on them for 1 minute. Surfaces are getting the same treatment since I can't do a 3 step process on them.
Can I say this is not fair?? I thought I was doing a good job with what people (even serious AOS judges) had recommended. Oh well, no one ever said life was fair, even in the orchid world! But once they (the viruses) are gone, they will not return as every single plant that I ever bring in (in the future) will be tested immediately. The New Year is coming... A small town girl from Louisiana should never have to know this much about any virus!!! Time for wine!
 
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Ozpaph

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Hot flame kills everything, fast (but damages tools). Or use disposable razor blades. Or just pull things apart with your hands and dust the cuts with Mancozeb - no tools.
 

SouthPark

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For some positive notes ------ just so that nobody panics like the 'fusarium wilt' band-wagon thing. I'm sure many growers here have been growing orchids for longer than me. But after a few decades (plus) of orchid growing (and still learning - still forever a student of orchid growing) - and having never tested any of my orchids for viruses - and have never seen/encountered virus symptoms in any of my orchids - and hopefully I don't (later) ------- it's possible that orchids can just handle it. This doesn't mean none of my orchids have viruses. Just that -------- it doesn't necessarily mean that if an orchid has a virus, then they'll die or become stunted or get those colour breaks and/or alien rings or pattern things.

It could be somewhat a waste or even a waste of a life (or lives) of orchids that do get tested positive ----- but could otherwise just keep growing without any issue. And we can just enjoy their growing and their flowers - for ages.

This doesn't mean that people that find it necessary to test for viruses need to re-think or stop etc. Just mentioning my experience. I do have quite good growing conditions and I follow hygiene procedures etc though. And - even though there's uncertainty about whether some of my orchids do have virus (or not) ------- I do make back-ups of my 'favourite' orchids (I actually love all orchids - but some may be more 'close' or personal), and spread the eggs around in different baskets - for good measure.

But certainly - hats off to those - including you SB - that have the drive and time and effort to do the orchid virus tests. Will be interesting to see how many members here don't test for viruses (like myself here). I have nothing against virus testing actually. It is a choice - certainly involving own personal view, cost, time, effort. I just often think about the many orchids that get dumped or burned/composted etc when they're tested positive for a virus.
 
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Ray

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Like Southpark, in over 45 years of growing, I have never tested anything for viruses.

I have found that even virused plants can grow well, if their cultural needs are met, and if not, they simply start dying, so can be culled.

I did bring in a particularly nice oncidium hybrid from growers in Hawaii, which I resold, and one of my customers tested hers and found it to be virused. I contacted the grower, they tested and confirmed the result. I trashed mine. They continued selling theirs.
 
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Hot flame kills everything, fast (but damages tools). Or use disposable razor blades. Or just pull things apart with your hands and dust the cuts with Mancozeb - no tools.
Yes, but I don’t like flame for a couple of reasons. What to do you disinfect your hands with or do you change gloves with every plant you touch?
 
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For some positive notes ------ just so that nobody panics like the 'fusarium wilt' band-wagon thing. I'm sure many growers here have been growing orchids for longer than me. But after a few decades (plus) of orchid growing (and still learning - still forever a student of orchid growing) - and having never tested any of my orchids for viruses - and have never seen/encountered virus symptoms in any of my orchids - and hopefully I don't (later) ------- it's possible that orchids can just handle it. This doesn't mean none of my orchids have viruses. Just that -------- it doesn't necessarily mean that if an orchid has a virus, then they'll die or become stunted or get those colour breaks and/or alien rings or pattern things.

It could be somewhat a waste or even a waste of a life (or lives) of orchids that do get tested positive ----- but could otherwise just keep growing without any issue. And we can just enjoy their growing and their flowers - for ages.

This doesn't mean that people that find it necessary to test for viruses need to re-think or stop etc. Just mentioning my experience. I do have quite good growing conditions and I follow hygiene procedures etc though. And - even though there's uncertainty about whether some of my orchids do have virus (or not) ------- I do make back-ups of my 'favourite' orchids (I actually love all orchids - but some may be more 'close' or personal), and spread the eggs around in different baskets - for good measure.

But certainly - hats off to those - including you SB - that have the drive and time and effort to do the orchid virus tests. Will be interesting to see how many members here don't test for viruses (like myself here). I have nothing against virus testing actually. It is a choice - certainly involving own personal view, cost, time, effort. I just often think about the many orchids that get dumped or burned/composted etc when they're tested positive for a virus.
Your approach is used by most, I’m sure. Waldor (on their website) spearheaded virus testing and was the first nursery to be “virus free” many years ago (during the cut flower industry). They, however, did not trash all virused plants. Really old plants cultivars and crosses probably don’t exist virus free. They kept the rare old cultivars that showed no or minor symptoms, and have them isolated so as not to infect other plants. They sell divisions of them, letting you know they are virused and to isolate them. They test what they can of their other plants, and often a plant I get from them will have the date and “virus free” on the tag. If you test a plant immediately and it is positive, they stand behind it. I have under 90 plants and a 9x 12 room. I could not possibly isolate, safely, a virused plant. I have enough plants that are very special and valuable to me that I would be crushed to lose them to virus, especially if I contaminated them.
The vendor who told me they don’t worry about virus unless the plants show symptoms, has been the source of virus in more 10% of the plants I have tested so far (that are not seedlings.). Unfortunately, I won’t be purchasing anymore from them. The seedlings I have that are positive (different vendor) were likely cross-contaminated by me.
My intent is to inform, not advocate. Everyone’s growing situation is different. I often share divisions of quite nice or valuable plants and I want to know what I’m giving to someone.
 
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orchid527

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I did my first massive round of virus testing more than 10 years ago when I noticed a significant decline in the health of my phals. They had been strong, reliable bloomers for more than 20 years. I had unknowingly infected them with virus from newly acquired mericlones from a California grower. It cost me thousands of dollars in Agdia test kits with confirmation of results by Critter Creek. In addition, I had to implemented a barrier strategy to keep virus out of my greenhouse going forward, which added 5-6 dollars to the cost of every plant. I also changed the way I grow by providing more spacing for plants and watering to avoid splashing, and I always use new razor blades and gloves for every plant.

I have never found a virused phrag, but I think I've just been lucky. I found just one virused paph, but it had come from a greenhouse with rampant virus problems. Just a few of the catts tested positive, but the majority of the phals were infected. Until just recently, nearly 60% of all newly purchased phals tested positive. I think it is safe to say that if you have many phals, then your mostly likely have virus.

It has been an expensive and emotionally painful experience. If I had it to do over, I'm not sure I would do virus testing. I would just assume the plants are infected and throw away the ones that show signs of decline. Keep in mind that ORSV and CymMV are not the only ones that can cause issues and that thrips can bring things in from the outside. If your plants spend part of the year outside, there is really no point in testing them at all.

Good luck with your efforts.

Mike
 
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I did my first massive round of virus testing more than 10 years ago when I noticed a significant decline in the health of my phals. They had been strong, reliable bloomers for more than 20 years. I had unknowingly infected them with virus from newly acquired mericlones from a California grower. It cost me thousands of dollars in Agdia test kits with confirmation of results by Critter Creek. In addition, I had to implemented a barrier strategy to keep virus out of my greenhouse going forward, which added 5-6 dollars to the cost of every plant. I also changed the way I grow by providing more spacing for plants and watering to avoid splashing, and I always use new razor blades and gloves for every plant.

I have never found a virused phrag, but I think I've just been lucky. I found just one virused paph, but it had come from a greenhouse with rampant virus problems. Just a few of the catts tested positive, but the majority of the phals were infected. Until just recently, nearly 60% of all newly purchased phals tested positive. I think it is safe to say that if you have many phals, then your mostly likely have virus.

It has been an expensive and emotionally painful experience. If I had it to do over, I'm not sure I would do virus testing. I would just assume the plants are infected and throw away the ones that show signs of decline. Keep in mind that ORSV and CymMV are not the only ones that can cause issues and that thips can bring things in from the outside. If your plants spend part of the year outside, there is really no point in testing them at all.

Good luck with your efforts.

Mike
Wow, interesting journey. I have only 4 phals, all mini but one. I have had thrips once, but never are my plants outside, thankfully.
 
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I test occasionally but every plant does not get tested on its way into the door. Today, I decided to test a few of my Lycastes after reading about virus in Lycastes and inspired by SB's post. Out of the 10 I tested 3 were virused, and all three came from the same seller. These three have been with me a couple of months, but I am confident they came virused. I doubt anything will come of it but I let the seller know. It is likely others are infected in his collection.

I am throwing out the plants because I don't have a good way to iso them. While these seem fine, I don't want them spreading viruses to other orchids, which may be more impacted by the virus (CymMV in this case).
 

Ozpaph

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The sap would carry the highest viral load so unless you touch the cut surface with your fingers , 'handling' isnt likley to be an efficient means of transfer. You can use isopropyl alcohol to clean your hands. let them dry. NO FLAMES near the alcohol, though.
 
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I test occasionally but every plant does not get tested on its way into the door. Today, I decided to test a few of my Lycastes after reading about virus in Lycastes and inspired by SB's post. Out of the 10 I tested 3 were virused, and all three came from the same seller. These three have been with me a couple of months, but I am confident they came virused. I doubt anything will come of it but I let the seller know. It is likely others are infected in his collection.

I am throwing out the plants because I don't have a good way to iso them. While these seem fine, I don't want them spreading viruses to other orchids, which may be more impacted by the virus (CymMV in this case).
Sorry, Darlene, to be the bearer of what ends up being bad news, however, at least you found it early. FYI, of the (now) 24 I've tested, only two were ORSV +, all the rest were CymMV. The two plants with ORSV were the worst looking...
I tested my first two Phals today because Terry has had several (old) Phals virused. Thankfully, mine are newer cultivars and were both virus free. Funny how improving my percentages really makes my day! (It doesn't take much during COVID to increase your joy!) Reason is, if I get a positive, then so many #@#! things need to be disinfected carefully, because it always seems it's only those that turn out to be positive that have fluid leak from the buffer solution (because of over maceration). Not actually over maceration, but the way I was doing it... Anyway, for us small growers, IMHO it's worth weeding this out. If not today, tomorrow, the plant will likely decline. What I've noticed is after growing a plant (and repotting) for up several years, after this last repotting, they have declined. Who can explain nature???... It was their time..
 
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The sap would carry the highest viral load so unless you touch the cut surface with your fingers , 'handling' isnt likley to be an efficient means of transfer. You can use isopropyl alcohol to clean your hands. let them dry. NO FLAMES near the alcohol, though.
Ozpaph, what about the (honey dew) sap that exudes from catts in little droplets in many areas of the plant/stems? It might be called something else, but nonetheless? And, unfortunately from the research I've done, although isopropyl alcohol (even 70%) works great for enveloped viruses such as COVID, even 90% does nothing for un-enveloped viruses (as in orchid viruses). I really, really, really wish it were that simple.
According to the research I've done, our hands (and our cutting tools) are actually the most likely way we spread orchid viruses. Keith Davis even says that the run-off of one plant onto another plant's roots can spread them, although I can find nowhere that has been proven. He has a lot of credibility, though, because he works with the Univ. of North Carolina (US) on many of these things. And, if you think about it, when we water we wash out wastes, so it's feasible to me.
Since the Agdia test kits tell you you can test, leaves, roots, flower spikes or flower parts, it would seem that it's more prolific in plant parts than obvious. How about the stakes that we so easily use on one plant, then another. Clearly we pierce roots with stakes, unintentionally. And some AOS articles recommend disinfecting stakes/tags etc., as well...
So, we all do the best we can with whatever size collection we have. But, I have recently started acquiring some special plants and would like my small space to be best utilized with special plants, so this is very important to me.
I've gotten pretty adept at disinfecting from COVID. By the grace of God I've not been infected and I'm not a hermit. I go out to eat, I socialize, etc., but I'm careful about wearing a mask and disinfecting. So as frustrating as this is, to me it seems worth it (at least we don't have to wear masks in our orchid environments). Let me clarify, so as to not be misunderstood: I am, in no way, comparing the devastation of COVID with the devastation of orchid viruses. We are speaking of life forms of different value IMHO.
 

Ozpaph

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all that you say is true but is about probability and a sensible approach. There's no guarantees. Its most likely (supposition) that cutting tools are the biggest culprit. Aim for that first and dont re-use stake in virus vulnerable genera - esp cattleyas and cymbids.
 

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All organisms have viruses. Even bacteria have viruses... Most have been evolving in concert with the host species for millennia and are well tolerated. Many are directly integrated into the nuclear genome, they might not be able to leave if they tried. It is the new ones that cause problems.

I guarantee that even if you get rid of all ORZV and CymMV, you haven't gotten rid of all the viruses. There are more you can't test for because there isn't a test. We say paphs and phrags don't get viruses, but that is also not true. They don't get the ones we test can test for, at least very often, but there are viruses. I guarantee there are slipper viruses. Fortunately they don't seem to cause symptoms, or if they do nobody has associated symptoms with a specific virus.

All that said, I have a _lot_ of plants. I can't test them all. I will ruthlessly dispose of symptomatic orchids, even my favorites. But I maintain reasonable sanitation protocols and generally don't worry much about it.
 
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[QUOTE[/QUOTE]
littlefrog
I don’t disagree with you generally, (so why do I feel attacked?). Your response seems to indicate that you feel I attacked your system and caused you to justify it. My last paragraph should explain my thoughts on that. Here are my comments based on yours which I quote:

“All organisms have viruses. Even bacteria have viruses... Most have been evolving in concert with the host species for millennia and are well tolerated. Many are directly integrated into the nuclear genome, they might not be able to leave if they tried. It is the new ones that cause problems.
I guarantee that even if you get rid of all ORZV and CymMV, you haven't gotten rid of all the viruses. There are more you can't test for because there isn't a test.”

No one would question this, it is well known. I didn’t challenge this assertion. Even Agdia says their test looks for the two most common viruses in orchids. However, there are (possibly) scores of others not as prolific or worrisome.

“We say paphs and phrags don't get viruses, but that is also not true. They don't get the ones we can test for, at least very often, but there are viruses. I guarantee there are slipper viruses. Fortunately they don't seem to cause symptoms, or if they do nobody has associated symptoms with a specific virus.”

I’m not sure why you say this here, as I never ascertained that Paphs and Phrags don’t get viruses. Having said that, viruses are rarer in Paphs and Phrags, most likely because they are rarely (if ever) cloned! So, it would probably be cross-contamination that infects them. The article I offered a link to, speaks to that.

“All that said, I have a _lot_ of plants. I can't test them all. I will ruthlessly dispose of symptomatic orchids, even my favorites. But I maintain reasonable sanitation protocols and generally don't worry much about it.”

And, that is clearly your choice. Again, if you read back in the post, I acknowledged that everyone has a different sized collection and a different situation and should/must base their protocols on that. I specifically said, as a small grower of less than 90 plants my choice is to do what I can to be virus free, while acknowledging each person’s situation is different. If somehow I wasn’t clear on that, I apologize, but if you read back, I believe I was. .
Everyone’s situation is different and as I said to southpark sbove:
“Your approach is used by most, I’m sure.”
I hope this clarifies.
 
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