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  #1  
Old 06-26-2020, 03:03 PM
MJG MJG is offline
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I have ordered a total of 36 orchids this spring from 6 different vendors. I test all new orchids for viruses as they come in the door for CyMV and ORSV using Agdia test strips. If an orchid tests positive, I throw it away and contact the vendor.

The Agdia test strips are known to be reliable. I have confidence in them. They only test for 2 of many viruses that can afflict orchids but they're 2 of the most likely culprits.

Up until now, receiving a new orchid that has a virus has been incredibly rare. It's happened once for me in 15-20 years. This spring 7 of my 36 new orchids tested positive. What gives?

4 of the virused orchids came from a notoriously bad vendor. (I didn't do my research.) I had a long and uncomfortable exchange with them. They eventually refunded my money, but suggested that the problem lay with the "unreliable" test strips I was using. There was also the insinuation that I was trying to pull something over on them.

2 of the virused orchids came from a sterling grower who I think we all love and trust. Their website says something along the lines of guaranteeing healthy orchids. When I contacted them they were courteous and refunded my money no questions asked. They also said that they take the utmost care with their orchid culture; however they do buy and distribute orchids from other vendors and can't guarantee that they're virus-free. There are too many for them to test each one. Understood, and fair treatment of my order.

1 virus came from a vendor with a good reputation. They haven't answered my email.

I'm bummed that this is happening. If it were a rarity I would toss the orchid in the trash and write it off. This year it's happened too often to do that.

I could stop testing new orchids and rely on practicing good cultivation (don't reuse scissors without sterilizing them!!) I think that's what most of us do. Then the only appreciable risk is an infestation of certain pests like spider mites moving from orchid to orchid. Viruses don't spread easily. So that is an entirely reasonable approach. But to date I've always tested and if I stop now it's because I've gotten so many virused plants this year that I don't even want to know any more.

The other thing for me is that I am beginning to build a huge terrarium that I hope to fill with lots of beautiful orchids all sharing the same little ecosystem. They won't be potted. They'll be closely planted, sharing water. God forbid if I accidentally introduce spider mites or aphids. So I'm going to keep testing.

However testing means I'm going to continue going through this process and I really hate that. I can't rely entirely on only buying from great growers. I hate anticipating the arrival of a great new orchid only to have to throw it away. I hate calling vendors and asking for refunds, especially when they insinuate that I'm the problem.

Can anyone talk me down from my soapbox?
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  #2  
Old 06-26-2020, 03:59 PM
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Roberta Roberta is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MJG View Post
Can anyone talk me down from my soapbox?
No, I'll get up there with you!

If a vendor apologizes and refunds your money (or sends you a replacement that they have tested) they recognize that sometimes bad things happen and they want your business. And take the issue seriously. (I know a situation where a friend tested and found a plant, from a stellar vendor, to be virused. Not only did the vendor replace the plant with a tested-clean one, but also investigated... found other virused plants in the vicinity of where it had been, then found that an employee wasn't following protocols... so a worse problem was headed off)

If they give you a hard time, or don't respond at a all, they need to be in the Vendor Feedback area so that other people can gain the benefit from your experience. There is no excuse for that sort of behavior, and such vendors need to be avoided. (If it hits them in the wallet maybe they'll start to pay attention)
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  #3  
Old 06-26-2020, 04:22 PM
MJG MJG is offline
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Originally Posted by Roberta View Post
No, I'll get up there with you
I'm glad to have you up here with me, Roberta!

The other thing that I want to comment on is that, if my experience this spring is the norm, I am amazed and appalled at the number of virused orchids being peddled. There are too many vendors/growers out there who care more about making a buck than conscientious orchid cultivation.
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  #4  
Old 06-26-2020, 04:23 PM
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I'll echo Roberta's feelings.

"Stop testing to see fewer positives" sounds too much like a Chee-to president I know of, and is just sticking your head in the sand.

One thing to consider is that a negative Agdia result may not necessarily mean there is no virus present, but that it isn't currently at a level that triggers a positive. (I don't know that to be the case specifically, but I do know that's true with many biological indicators.)

I am of the opinion that plants - like humans - carry everything they have ever been exposed to. If they have proper care and are not unduly stressed, those may not reach chronic levels. Could that mean that a greater percentage of plants aren't as well cared-for as they were, or is this truly a case of more virus out there?
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  #5  
Old 06-26-2020, 04:40 PM
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It would be interesting to see the results of large-scale testing of plants in habitat.
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  #6  
Old 06-26-2020, 04:42 PM
MJG MJG is offline
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How ironic that I just received a reply from the vendor who hadn't responded. They emailed me asking if I would like them to send a tested replacement for the virused plant. Yes please!
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  #7  
Old 06-26-2020, 04:53 PM
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Originally Posted by estación seca View Post
It would be interesting to see the results of large-scale testing of plants in habitat.
My biologist friend did investigate the issue (collected data from other people, as well as doing his own testing, there have been studies) and found a very low-to-negligible level of virus in the wild. Conclusion... the primary vector is two-legged.

---------- Post added at 12:50 PM ---------- Previous post was at 12:44 PM ----------

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ray View Post

I am of the opinion that plants - like humans - carry everything they have ever been exposed to. If they have proper care and are not unduly stressed, those may not reach chronic levels. Could that mean that a greater percentage of plants aren't as well cared-for as they were, or is this truly a case of more virus out there?
I'm inclined to thing that there is some validity there. I know of a situation where some 60% of an heirloom collection was found to be virused (the owner passed away and donated the collection, including some very beautiful plants) to a club. This collector was known for carefully following protocols (like flaming tools) though whether that was the case for their lifetime, is impossible to determine. At the same time, my biologist friend tried, in a controlled experiment, to infect some seedlings - and after several years they are still negative. So it is very possible that at least for those old plants, one factor is that resistance declines with time (like with humans)

---------- Post added at 12:53 PM ---------- Previous post was at 12:50 PM ----------

Quote:
Originally Posted by MJG View Post
The other thing that I want to comment on is that, if my experience this spring is the norm, I am amazed and appalled at the number of virused orchids being peddled. There are too many vendors/growers out there who care more about making a buck than conscientious orchid cultivation.
It is very possible that in the absence of shows and difficulty of shipping in many cases, there's importing going on from sources that in prior years wouldn't have received a second look. And/or shortcuts being taken that weren't taken before.
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  #8  
Old 06-26-2020, 06:00 PM
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True ...... I'm getting on the soap box too now ----- creating a NHS issue, as there are about four of us on here now.

Roberta mentioned that my Ctt. Porcia 'Cannizaro' (and all of them in the world) has a virus - due to the original one being virused apparently.

Now - while that particular one is probably a 'typhoid mary' type, which is said to never decline in health ----- then a decision needs to be made whether to destroy it or not, or give it away to somebody that doesn't mind (even if you tell them about it - allowing the virus to spread more).

On the other hand - if we think about the Darwin sort of things (ie. evolution, natural selection, etc) - and we remove some or all emotion - then virused or unvirused orchids that remain - that develop immunity or unaffected - may well become the better survivors.

So the choices to be made will depend on factors - emotional, commercial, financial etc.


Last edited by SouthPark; 06-26-2020 at 06:08 PM..
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Old 06-26-2020, 06:04 PM
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I'm certainly not dumping my Ctt. Porcia 'Cannizaro'! It reliably blooms its head off every fall. What I do is simply place it away from the rest of the orchids... while drips are not all that much of a spreading-mechanism, I don't want to take the chance. It lives happily under a rose bush. If I were confined to greenhouse growing, I'd be a lot fussier. Confined spaces can lead to virus spread which can decimate a collection (I know people who have had that happen) But outside, there is plenty of air exchange, the solution to pollution is dilution. (Same concept, your odds of avoiding COVID-19 are a lot better when you're outside... air movement, and you can spread out) So if you treat each plant as though it could be virused when you repot (sterilize tools, etc.) then you greatly improve the chances that it WON'T be.
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  #10  
Old 06-26-2020, 06:05 PM
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When I meant NHS issue - I meant 4 of us is too much. If the soap box collapses, then it will most likely end in tears.
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