New tool tackles canker fungus

Article taken from the Agronomist & Arable Farmer, written by Rachel Anderson

Growers now have a different way of tackling the potentially devastating canker fungus (Neonectria galligena) thanks to a new tool that has been added to Agrovista’s top fruit pest and disease forecasting service, Growers Choice Interactive (GCI).

Agrovista consultant Alex Radu revealed at the company’s annual top fruit seminar, held at Brand’s Hatch, Kent, on 10th February that the new model predicts when the risk of canker infection is going to be high by monitoring the key factors that, together, cause an outbreak.  These factors include tree wounds in the growers’ orchard, the level of rainfall and leaf wetness.

Mr Radu explained, for example, how a rainy period in April last year triggered the fungus’ spores to be released into many UK orchards.

He said: “The new canker model should help us to better tackle the disease and get better control of it in the orchards.

“Information needs to be correlated with the number of open wounds in the orchards that could be infected.

“There are critical stages during each season and the model will tell you the action you require.”

Agrovista fruit specialist Paul Bennett, who chaired the fruit seminar, added that the model’s graph informs growers whether or not they have any infection and the intensity of the infection.

He said: “The big advantage of the model is that we are now able to see when an infection period is occurring in the area and if wounds on the tree are susceptible to infection.  Wetness on the tree is necessary for an infection period to develop and there needs to be a fresh wound present on the tree.  Most of the time, the high-risk infection periods are during leaf fall.”

Mr Bennett added that top fruit growers will stand an even better chance of combating the disease if they use the new canker model in conjunction with the copper foliar feed, 42,PHI Cu.

He said this copper foliar feed has been a hit with Agrovista’s top fruit clients since they introduced it to them last year.

Mr Bennett added that growers in the USA have reported reduced levels of canker where this foliar feed has been used.  He said: “Canker is difficult to control because growers do not have any fungicides that can be used to treat it effectively during the season.

“Many of the growers that we advise are using it and we’ve received positive feedback.

“We have seen an improvement in the levels of canker and a reduction in the amount of new canker since we started using it.”

Other new additions to Growers Choice Interactive (GCI)

Several new features have been added to GCI in addition to the new canker model, consultant Alex Radu told delegates.  He said that, at the start of last season, the RIMPro software that is used in GCI changed from being server-based to being Cloud-based.

Mr Radu also revealed that GCI now includes a regularly updated, 10-day local weather forecast as well as a new feature that enables users to scroll in and out of, and back and forth between, its on-screen graphs.

This year is also set to see the launch of a new fireblight model for GCI – which includes models for scab, codling moth and now canker.  Mr Radu added that prices for the service remain the same this year as they did last year.


18 March 2015

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