The need for multiple, spring and summer applications of fungicides to control apple scab, the most destructive disease in apple production, may be over.
Scientists at Wageningen University, in the Netherlands, say it can now be controlled by a biological agent, H39, which is based on a strain of the Cladosporium fungus.
A biological-control company is evaluating the possible commercial use of H39, which reduced apple scab in leaves and fruits in several European field trials during the last two years.
It is hoped that it can also be used to reduce dependency on chemical fungicides.
Apple scab, which is also a fungus, can reduce apple yield by 70% or more in humid, cool weather in the spring and summer.
Resistance to an increasing number of chemical fungicides in major apple-growing areas has arisen in recent years.
Furthermore, European Union regulations restrict the use of fungicides, and there is increasing demand for fruit without pesticide residues, which is another reason why alternatives to chemical fungicides are needed.
H39’s efficacy of control was between 42% and 98% on leaf scab incidence and 41% and 94% on fruit scab, as demonstrated in both organic and conventional orchards
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