This is only an excerpt of the full article that appeared in P&F Magazine. The full content is not currently available online.
Kaestner speaks as part of the Vanilla 2009 conference in Jamesburg, New Jersey, November 10-11.
Read an extended feature on Fusarium in the November issue of Perfumer & Flavorist magazine.
Fusarium, an opportunistic root fungus, was first noted in 1898 in S.J. Galbraith’s “Vanilla Culture as Practiced in the Seychelles Islands.” At the time, the United States sought to break the vanilla monopolies of Madagascar and Mexico by cultivating the temperamental orchid in Puerto Rico. This proved unsuccessful. While Galbraith’s report described vanilla as a robust plant with remarkable yields per acre, he also discovered that any breakout of disease—particularly Fusarium—would lead to the rapid and complete destruction of all vines. One hundred and twelve years later, the threat remains as present as ever.