Inspections are still on-going throughout Cal Poly’s horticulture units as investigators sample more plants in search of the passion-vine mealybug that was discovered two weeks ago.

“The majority of greenhouses have been released of hold,” pest control professor Robert Rice said.

Cal Poly’s Plant Shop and several other greenhouses on campus are remaining closed to the public as further samples and inspections are being conducted, Rice said.

In total, eight of the passion-vine mealybugs have been positively identified out of roughly 115 samples taken. The pest was discovered during a routine inspection of Cal Poly’s greenhouses.

“Fewer than half have been sampled because it is a three-hour process (for each pest), so we have a big backlog,” Rice said.

The California Department of Food and Agriculture is funding the investigation and does not have any new information as to where the pest came from or how it arrived at Cal Poly. Rice assumed that investigators will probably never find out who brought it here but they are trying to trace all the plants that have come in and out of the greenhouses.

The plants that were identified as containing the pest are being sent to a containment facility at UC Riverside for DNA analysis and further research. Because this is the first passion-vine mealybug found in the United States, studies will most likely be conducted for quite some time.

Tomato Mania, which was supposed to have been held April 8 and 9, will now be held today and Saturday in the horticulture unit parking lot, across from the Cal Poly Plant Shop off Via Carta Drive.

Originally, the sale was supposed to have been in the plant shop, but after investigators discovered the pest on one of the plants inside, they then promptly closed the shop and it has been closed since the afternoon of April 12. All tomato plants have since been inspected and were found to be free of the pest.

Three students were involved in Tomato Mania by growing all the different types of tomatoes, including green zebras, lemon drops and tomcat hybrids. Two-thirds of the profits made over the weekend will go directly to those students, with the remaining third going back to the horticulture program, said Ellen Brack, an instructional support technician for the horticulture department.

The Tomato Mania will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. today and Saturday. For more information on what type of tomatoes will be sold, go to www.polyplantshop.com.

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