asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on progressive verticillium wilt disease in Hereford and Worcester.
Tests have shown that progressive verticillium wilt disease of hops is present on six farms in the lower Frome valley in Hereford-Worcester in addition to two previously known to be affected. In the light of these results, I have decided to allow the planting of resistant, or "tolerant", hops in Hereford-Worcester under strictly controlled licensing arrangements. Licences to plant resistants will be considered only in extreme cases. Plantings will be confined to land which has been grassed down for at least two growing seasons and will be subject to conditions designed to minimise risks to sensitive varieties. The number of licences granted in the foreseeable future is likely to be minimal. The decision to adopt a policy which includes limited plantings of resistant hops does not imply any lessening of the Ministry's determination to combat progressive verticillium wilt. Rather, we are intensifying our attack through inspection and advisory operations and by the introduction of stronger eradication measures, including an increase in the number of plants which have to be grubbed up when progressive verticillium wilt is found.