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  #1  
Old 10-28-2020, 04:04 PM
katsucats katsucats is offline
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Rare Earth Orchids seems to host biannual sales of many Catasetum that can't really be found elsewhere. The only other nursery that specializes in Catasetum that I know of is SVO. So it's without question that I tried to get my hands on some of their species in the latest sale. I named 10 or so plants but was allowed to purchase 5: 4 Catasetum alliance and 1 Cymbidium.

The plants I received seemed okay, but, as you know, I test every orchid I get my hands on. It turns out that 3 out of the 4 Catasetum that I was allowed to purchase had ORSV. I don't want to malign Mr. Stephen Moffitt's reputation. He said he would refund me, no questions asked, and touted his clean practices.

But while it's a small sample size, it would still be a very rare occurrence that it's a coincidence that I happened to get them if the overall virus rate in the collection would only be 5-10%. For example, assuming he didn't happen to have stored all the species together, and if his overall rate is 25%, there would still be less than a 5% chance that I happened to get 3 of them that are virused.

My point isn't to cry doom and gloom at his undoubtedly wonderful collection, but more as a notice to the members of this community, that if you care about viruses, and you've taken part in the recent Fall sale, you might want to get tested as a precaution.

I am, on the one hand, very happy at Stephen's response, but on the other, very disappointed that it put my collection at risk, and between the shipping of 5 plants and the cost of 7 tests (retested to be sure), I've basically spent over 100 for just 2 plants that are not virused. It went from reasonably priced to very expensive. Some of this is just the cost of buying orchids online, but if they were not virused, it would have been 2 tests (3 samples per well) and 5 plants for just over 130.

You might disagree with the way I did my analysis, so take it for what you may.
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  #2  
Old 10-28-2020, 07:03 PM
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I am sorry to hear what happened. Viruses are just terrible. I wish vendors had to periodically test all their orchids (I would not mind paying extra for this) and keep their stock virus-free.

I do not test my orchids as worrying about viruses took all the fun out of the hobby for me and I was ready to toss all my orchids at one point. Now, I try to be as careful as possible concerning vendors and observing my plants but, otherwise, just try not to worry about it too much. My plan is that if I see color break in my Cattleyas, I am going to rid myself of the orchids but for a few favorites and then use the shelf-space for an indoor garden.
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  #3  
Old 10-28-2020, 08:01 PM
katsucats katsucats is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Leafmite View Post
I do not test my orchids as worrying about viruses took all the fun out of the hobby for me and I was ready to toss all my orchids at one point.
Yep, it's stressful for sure. I guess I rather deal with the stress up front. I'm also a bit of a nerd when it comes to collecting things and like the idea of a clean collection.
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Old 10-28-2020, 10:35 PM
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I think you have the right idea. A clean collection is a great achievement. I just wish it was illegal to sell orchids with the main viruses so that we did not need to worry about it anymore. I live a small town surrounded by farms...selling plants infected with mosaic virus cannot be good for protecting our food supply.
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Old 10-28-2020, 10:52 PM
katsucats katsucats is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Leafmite View Post
I think you have the right idea. A clean collection is a great achievement. I just wish it was illegal to sell orchids with the main viruses so that we did not need to worry about it anymore. I live a small town surrounded by farms...selling plants infected with mosaic virus cannot be good for protecting our food supply.
I couldn't agree with you more. This is a problem that could be solved once and for all if everyone takes part, starting from the supply chain. It's frightening that the mosaic virus could survive in soil in the right conditions for decades. I wish there was more awareness.
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Old 10-29-2020, 02:48 AM
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And Mosaic virus is very easy to transfer, too.

Good luck!
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  #7  
Old 10-29-2020, 03:04 AM
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Mosaic virus is in most tobacco products. Smokers spread it.
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Old 10-30-2020, 08:38 PM
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Fairorchids Fairorchids is offline
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In some countries, there are strict rules as to what can be grown on farm land adjacent to a nursery. For example, in Denmark, you cannot grow potatos (which spreads TMV very easily). My dad had to remind his neighbor about this repeatedly, as it jeopardized our ability to export orchids.

On a different note, the current cost of testing for virus is prohibitive in relation to what the market is willing to pay.
  • Plants currently retailing for $30, would jump to $48 (without accounting for the time it takes to perform the test) just to pay for the test kit.
  • If the average test takes 5 min, to pay for my time, the $48 price slides up to $60.00
  • Finally, if we have to account for the number of plants tossed into the compost heap for being infected, we are looking at revised retail prices of:
    [
  • 5% discarded: $63 retail
  • 10% discarded: $67 retail
  • 20% discarded: $75 retail
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Last edited by Fairorchids; 10-30-2020 at 08:55 PM..
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Old 10-31-2020, 08:58 PM
katsucats katsucats is offline
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I certainly don't mean to contest anyone, as I've never run a nursery myself. Personally, if I expect a low infection rate, I could pool 3-5 samples into a test and test 5 plants at once. With 25 Agdia tests at $144 plus shipping, it amounts to about $6.50 each -- let's round it to $7 to account for the razors. So with 5 samples, the overall cost is $1.40 per plant.

I'm personally not worth $144 an hour, but if I was, I couldn't be bothered to do menial plants like packing the plants, or even watering them. I'd probably hire several helpers to do these things, and put the 5 minutes on their bill.

If 20% of my collection was infected, then I wouldn't have the fortitude to sell every 5 customers an infected plant knowingly.

This is all just speculation, but I guess I'm just not cut out for the business.
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Old 11-02-2020, 08:01 AM
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The problems with the Agdia testing kit are:
  1. That you need a very specific amount of plant material, which does not lend itself to doing 5 plants at once (and if it did, getting a positive would then lead to re-testing to identify which one is bad).
  2. The Agdia test is known to produce a number of false positives. This has been proven by laboratory re-tests.
  3. The Agdia test only checks for two types of virus. There are others, which will not trigger this test.
In my calculation above, 'time factor' is based on $48/hr = $4 net per test => $12 added to the retail price. In reality, each test can take up to 15-20 min to show results, so I have to keep the tests going and check them several times.

Personally, I maintain 100% safe standards in the greenhouse. BUT, like everyone else, while I do grow some plants from flask through to maturiy, I also rely on the major production nurseries in HI to supply plants.

In some shipments, I get 50-100 BS plants in, in other shipments I get 2-300 seedlings or plugs. It is simply not practical to test these quantities - just like it is not practical for those nurseries to test prior to shipment.

We do keep an eye out for any plants showing hints of problems, and isolate them till we can make certain. Most of those plants end up in the compost eventually.
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Founder of SPCOP (Society to Prevention of Cruelty to Orchid People), with the goal of barring the taxonomists from tinkering with established genera!

I am neither a 'lumper' nor a 'splitter', but I refuse to re-write millions of labels.

Last edited by Fairorchids; 11-02-2020 at 08:05 AM..
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