UH Sweet Basil Project

UH Basil Production Information


  • Due: July1999

Management of Fusarium Wilt Disease of Sweet Basil Using A Resistant Cultivar

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BasilProject Title:  Management of Fusarium Wilt Disease of Sweet Basil Using a Tolerant Cultivar

Project Personnel:  R. Hamasaki, J. Uchida, H.D. Sato, S. Fukuda, R. Shimabuku, D. Sato, and R. Yamakawa

Project Goal: Demonstrate to growers that Fusarium Wilt can be managed using a disease tolerant cultivar.

In 1996, Hawaii produced 510,000 pounds of sweet basil with a farm gate value estimated at $1,122,000. However, in 1997, sweet basil production dropped 31 percent from 1996 to yield 350,000 pounds. Total farm value of sweet basil in 1997 totaled $840,000, down 25 % from the year prior.


1993 355,000 LBS / YEAR 740,000 LBS / YEAR
1994 290,000 LBS / YEAR 520,000 LBS / YEAR
1995 390,000 LBS / YEAR 630,000 LBS / YEAR
1996 510,000 LBS / YEAR  900,000 LBS / YEAR
1997 350,000 LBS / YEAR  850,000 LBS / YEAR

In June 1997, UH IPM provided special grant support to fund the transfer of a highly tolerant fusarium wilt line of sweet basil, called 'UH Sweet Basil'. Fusarium wilt of basil caused by the fungus Fusarium oxysporum severely limits the production of basil in Hawaii. Currently, there are NO known chemical controls for this disease. The causal agent was identified as Fusarium oxysporum by Dr. Janice Uchida of the UH Department of Plant Pathology. The disease is now widespread in all major basil production areas in Hawaii. The disease spreads easily among farms by the movement of infected plants or seeds.

A partnership between the UH Cooperative Extension Service and the UH Department of Plant Pathology produced the open pollinated line of disease tolerant sweet basil. This line was tested in a replicated trial in a severely infested field at a commercial cooperator's farm. Results showed that the new basil line was highly tolerant to fusarium wilt. While 'UH Sweet Basil' is not completely resistant to Fusarium, it does offer growers an economically feasible strategy for managing this widespread disease.

Currently, field demonstrations are underway on the islands of Oahu, Kauai, Maui and Hawaii. On-farm demonstrations will be used to show the effectiveness of 'UH Sweet Basil' in managing the fusarium wilt disease. It is too premature to report the impact 'UH Sweet Basil' will have on profitability and production yields. Project investigators have begun to educate basil growers and home gardeners about the use of disease tolerant seed through farm visits, educational classes, UH CTAHR publications and mass media (worldwide web access). In December 1997, 'UH Sweet Basil' seeds were available for purchase through the UH Seed Lab. Preliminary surveys indicate positive feedback from growers and an increase in production yield after adopting the new disease tolerant sweet basil cultivar.

Anticipated Outcomes:

1) Fusarium wilt tolerant basil will allow basil production on farmlands infested by Fusarium oxysporum and provide increased net return to these growers. Field demonstration plots will be established in 4 counties where basil growers will be educated about disease management and significance of disease tolerant cultivars.

2) Growers responsible for 90 percent of State's basil production will evaluate the tolerant cultivar.

3) Sixty percent of these commercial growers will adopt hostplant tolerance as a means of managing fusarium wilt of basil.

Current Impacts:

1) Educational Impact: Since the project began, project investigators have increased awareness of the UH Fusarium Wilt Resistant Sweet Basil Cultivar to over 105 participants statewide. Growers responsible for 59% of the state's sweet basil industry are now evaluating the new variety.

2) Economical Impact: Project investigators and industry members are in the process of cultivar evaluation. Additional time is needed to determine economic benefits of the UH Sweet Basil cultivar. Preliminary surveys show a tremendous reduction in losses (up to 90 %) due to the adoption of UH Sweet Basil.

3) Environmental Impact: The adoption of UH Sweet Basil will promote non-chemical practices and effectively manage the disease fusarium wilt of basil. Project investigators anticipate demonstrating enhanced production yield without increasing the use of crop protection chemicals.

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