New early warning system for apple canker

Agrovista has added a new apple canker forecasting model to its Growers Choice Interactive disease forecasting service. The new model informs growers whether their orchards are infected, and if so at what level, by monitoring factors that can cause outbreaks, including rainfall, leaf wetness, temperature and tree wounds.

Agrovista fruit agronomist Alex Radu explains, “Accurate information is essential to produce reliable model outputs. This is provided by high-quality Plantsystems weather stations that GCI growers lease, similar to the existing scab and codling moth models they are familiar with.”

Information is forwarded every 15 minutes to a central server. The software model, based on RIMpro pest and disease prediction software, integrates this with information on canker’s lifecycle stored in the program. The resulting graph shows spore germination, relative numbers of spores on wounds and a resulting infection value.

While pruning cuts, bud burst, petal fall and fruit drop are all risk periods, the biggest danger comes at leaf fall in the autumn adds Alex: “If there are few fresh wounds then treatment may not be needed, regardless of infection value, but if wound levels are significant and the trend is rising and coinciding with a high infection value, treatment should be considered.”

It is hoped that the new model will reduce the need for prophylactic spray treatments in the autumn, reducing costs and improving the environmental footprint of apple production.

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