Fire Blight Resistance Survey in Ontario Apple and Pear Orchards

By Chris Burnie, Summer Research Assistant, Ontario Apple Growers

Streptomycin-resistant strains of Erwinia amylovora, the bacterium that causes fire blight, have been identified in the northeastern US. Through a joint project with the Ontario Apple Growers and Ontario Tender Fruit Growers, we hope to provide growers with tools to quickly respond to fire blight outbreaks by gaining information on the prevalence and distribution of fire blight resistance to streptomycin and by developing an integrated management program for Ontario’s pome fruit orchards.

Experimental plots have been planted in Vineland and will be inoculated with E. amylovora to look at cultural and chemical management practices in high density plantings of apple and pear including:

  • Impact of nitrogen fertilization, Apogee application and rootstock susceptibility
  • Evaluating streptomycin alternatives, such as antibiotics, biologicals and copper in high density apple (cv. Gala, M9 rootstock) and pear (cv. Bosc, Swiss Bartlett rootstock)

If you are interested in having your orchard tested for streptomycin resistance, we are also looking for grower cooperators. In 2016 and 2017, shoot blight samples will be collected across Ontario from commercial orchards to test for resistance in the bacteria. Participating growers will receive a report on the findings for their orchard.  Results will be reported in a general summary but individual orchard results will be confidential.

If you have found fire blight strikes in your orchard, please contact either:

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