This blog reviews the latest products, plants and innovations in gardening. It also provides a link for my many gardening friends who are members of the GardenMessenger and Seedmessenger Yahoo groups and their sub-groups that I moderate.

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Location: Australia

I am a semi-retired UK botanical garden curator and former international horticultural consultant, who has worked extensively in Europe, the Middle East, North America and Australia. I spend part of the year in Australia and part in Europe, mainly due to family and work commitments. I earn my living from writing and editing Internet copy, articles and books. I have written over fifty books on gardening and have been translated into twenty-four different languages. I am a former UK Garden Writer of the Year and a previous Quill & Trowel Award Winner from the Garden Writer’s Association of America. I am interested in developing gardening communities on the Internet and I manage the popular GardenMessenger Yahoo group, along with its various sub-groups like PondMessenger and SeedMessenger. I also edit International Water Gardener and its associated regional web-sites.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Fighting Fire Blight

Fire Blight on Apples

The fight is on against Erwinia amylovora, the bacterium responsible for Fire Blight, a costly disease of apples, pears and other tree fruit, as well as many berried ornamentals. Until now there has been no satisfactory control, especially for the home gardener. However, the future looks bright with the introduction to commercial fruit growing of a new bio-friendly treatment. United States Agricultural Research Services plant pathologist Larry Pusey and colleagues are calling on Pantoea agglomerans strain E325 for help. The blossom-dwelling bacterium naturally competes with Fire Blight for space and nutrients that both need to survive. Unlike its rival, E325 does not cause disease, Larry Pusey has shown that spraying E325 onto blossoms enables the bacterium to crowd out its Fire Blight rival so the disease is less able to cause harm.

E325 is a "top pick" from more than a thousand bacteria and yeasts that Pusey examined for bio-control potential using a screening method that involves growing the microbes on detached crab apple blossoms. In 1999, soon after ARS patented E325, Northwest Agricultural Products, Inc. of Pasco, Washington, entered into a co-operative research and development agreement with ARS to work with Mr Pusey's laboratory in commercially developing the Fire Blight-fighting strain. Under the agreement, the laboratory helped NAP evaluate a fermentation medium to mass-produce E325 and formulate it for use. It also furnished NAP with secondary strains of E325 that can survive being used with antibiotics. Orchard trials between 2002 to 2004 identified effective application rates. Results showed that E325 was 10 to 100 times better at suppressing the Fire Blight bacterium than other earlier-reported bio-control agents, including Pseudomonas fluorescens strain A506. The product is being registered for use on apples and pears under the name Bloomtime Biological FD. Initially it will only be available to commercial growers, but it is inconceivable that it will not eventually come to the hobby gardener market.

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Happy Gardening



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