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Tom Deckers, PC Fruit:

“Belgian fruit cultivators have avoided fire blight problems up till now”

Belgian pear cultivators were startled by fire blight, also called ‘pear fire,’ this week. There were various cases in Wellen in particular. According to Tom Deckers, researcher with PC Fruit, there are regions that had more cases of fire blight infections than normally in 2016. “Whether that will lead to more cases in 2017 will be difficult to predict.”

Staying ahead of the disease
Tom indicates that everything depends on the infection circumstances during the flowering period. “It depends on whether night frost occurs or not during the flowering period, because if it does, the infection risk is practically zero in the orchard. The presence of wintering diseases on affected host plants is another one of those conditions.” According to Tom, the Belgian apple and pear cultivators have ‘got away relatively well’ with the fire blight problems. “Yet it remains important to discover the focus of infection in and around these fruit companies and to carefully remove them. Only in this manner will we be able to stay ahead of the disease.”

2016: Infection pressure less for Conference
Tom remembers last year: “In 2016 we mostly had fire blight problems with late-flowering apple varieties such as Court Pendu and Wellant in Belgium. Hawthorn was also affected by it. The infection circumstances during the flowering period of these hosts plants were favourable.” The problem is currently slightly larger in Wellen than in other regions in Southern Limburg. “That cause can be found with the heavy storm of June last year. In 2016, we had a heavy storm with much hail and wind damage in the production area around Wellen on 23 June. These circumstances have also increased fire blight pressure in the areas affected. Infection pressure was clearly less for Conference pears in 2016,” Tom concludes.

For more information:
Tom Deckers
Fruittuinweg 1
3800 Sint-Truiden, Belgium
Tel: +32 (0)11 69 70 80
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