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New fireblight early warning system

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Agrovista has added the notifiable disease Fireblight to its cloud-based pest and disease forecasting service for top fruit growers: Growers Choice Interactive.

The new early warning system is undergoing final trials and will be released May 2015. It will be available free of charge to GCI subscribers, says Agrovista fruit agronomist Alex Radu.

“Fireblight is a potentially serious disease on apples and pears caused by the bacterium Erwinia amylovora. There is no chemical cure available, so growers have to rely on copper-based preventative or antagonistic sprays before the disease takes hold,” he explains. “This makes accurate forecasting all the more vital.”

Fireblight infection occurs through blossom and new growth when weather is favourable and inoculum is present. The new fireblight software, developed by Dutch pest and disease software forecasting specialist RIMpro, calculates the likelihood of infection based on the flowering period obtained from weather information and observation and likely contamination and bacterial growth based on temperature and relative humidity/rainfall.

The quality of the forecast is completely dependent on the accuracy of these weather predictions, says Mr Radu. “Erwinia becomes a threat at 18C or more, when conditions are wet. Growers whose orchards have a history of disease can assume it is there, and we can now help them forecast potential outbreaks with greater accuracy. This means we can improve the timing and efficacy of preventative applications, which will be a real benefit to growers in managing disease.”

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