Reduced-Risk Strategy for Fire Blight Management

The Canadian Horticultural Council's Apple Working Group identified fire blight as a priority issue to be dealt with through the Pesticide Risk Reduction Program (PRRP).

Initially, funding was provided by the program for a literature search and the writing of a review. The review included information on how the disease is controlled throughout the world along with lists of products registered for the control of fire blight in countries around the world. Following the completion of the literature review in February, 2005, a workgroup was established to develop a strategy to implement reduced risk solutions to the problem.

The actions taken (outlined below) have resulted in growers’ adoption of an integrated fire blight management system, incorporating new tools and a sustainable approach to the use of streptomycin.

Actions taken to meet the goals set by the group include the following:

1. Develop information for growers (fact sheet on the integrated control of the disease, workshops for growers, CD with risk estimation model)

The PRRP funded the writing and production of a fact sheet on the integrated management of fire blight in Canada, which was published in December 2005 and distributed to provincial apple grower associations for distribution to apple growers across the country. An electronic version of the fact sheet is available here for download.                                                                                      

Fact Sheet - Integrated management of fire blight

An electronic version of the fire blight daily risk estimation model for blossom blight developed by Dr. Tim Smith (Washington State University) was developed. This model and other information developed through the fire blight strategy was published and distributed to provincial grower associations. The spreadsheet and instructions are also available for download here.                                     

Fire Blight Daily Risk Estimation Model for Blossom Blight

Funding was provided by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada for the facilitation of workshops held across the country on the integrated control of fire blight in Canada. These workshops were based on the developed fact sheet and involved invited guest speakers with expertise in the control of the disease.

2. Encourage the registration of biological controls in Canada 

Letters of support were written by the Canadian Horticultural Council's Apple Working Group and the Pesticide Risk Reduction Program to encourage biopesticide companies to register their products in Canada. In addition, the PRRP and Health Canada’s PMRA provided regulatory support for the registration of a number of these reduced risk products. As a result of these efforts, the toolbox of disease management options has expanded from just two products in 2003 (copper salts, and streptomycin) to eight products registered for use in fire blight management as of 2012, including five biopesticides: Bloomtime, BlightBan C9-1, Serenade, BlightBan A506, BlossomProtect.

3. Prolong the registration of streptomycin

The registration of streptomycin was a concern for the group, as the product had only a temporary registration from year to year. As a result of the establishment of an integrated management plan for fire blight in Canadian orchards, and reduced reliance on streptomycin, and thus lower likelihood of resistance of the fire blight pathogen arising, the antibiotic was granted a full registration.

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