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Ulster: Canker attacks gas-stored apples

In recent years the Ulster apple crop - on average worth €845 million to the Northern Ireland economy - has in recent years been suffering mounting losses as a result of a canker which attacks gas-stored fruit.

The canker, called necria, takes the form of a rot spot on the affected apple. It is believed that the amount of carbon dioxide in the air is an important factor conducive to the spread of the disease.

Mr Edwin McClelland, of Annhugh House, Portadown, honorary secretary of the Northern Ireland Fruit Growers’ Association, told FarmWeek yesterday: “This canker has long been a problem with gas-stored apple crops, but the disease has only now been brought into the limelight because Ministry officials have been carrying out exhaustive research into its cause.

“Some losses in gas-stored apple crops, which growers had previously attributed to bruising, has now in fact been established as having been caused by canker,” he said. Mr McClelland added that the canker was having the most serious effect on growers who gas-store their crops for late sale – from April onwards.

Last Tuesday a meeting was held between local apple growers and the three bodies researching the the disease – the Ministry of Agriculture plant pathology division, County Armagh Horticultural Advisory Committee and Loughgall Horticultural Research Centre.

According to, the purpose of the meeting was to inform growers how far the research work had gone and to ask for their co-operation in future experiments.

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