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Fighting strawberry root rot in Ont.

Fighting strawberry root rot in Ont.

Growers can use a predictive model for strawberry anthracnose to help treat their crops 

Staff Writer
Ontario strawberry producers can benefit from a predictive model for root rot in their crops, thanks to funding from the Canadian Agricultural Partnership.
Strawberry anthracnose, a fungus that produces rot, has “caused considerable crop losses for Ontario berry growers over the last several years,” a Monday Agricultural Adaptation Council release said. Treatment methods for this fungus are scarce, and fungicide-resistant strains of the disease exist in Ontario.
A predictive model for the fruit rot was “developed in Florida to help growers predict when they should and shouldn’t be treating their berry crops,” the release said. Despite the model being validated under provincial conditions in 2016 and 2017, berry producers are reluctant to try the technology due to concerns about cost and unfamiliarity with the tool. 
With funding from the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, however, Berry Growers of Ontario (BGO) is field testing the model with commercial growers at five sites across the province. 
The model will help to ensure farmers can access resources and the tools necessary to predict and mitigate risks in their crops, Lawrence MacAulay, federal minister of agriculture and agri-food, said in the release.
“Collaborative in-field testing is important to support the adoption of innovative approaches to crop management, while also looking towards the long-term sustainability and profitability of the sector,” he said.
The model forecasts when farmers should treat their strawberries and may provide growers with stronger disease control while reducing costs, Kevin Schooley, the BGO’s executive director, said in the release. 
“Based on our initial testing, we think it works, but now we’re bringing it to the practical level and into the hands of growers to see if and how it works in the field.
“We’re hoping to get grower comfort level with the technology, and develop something that they’ll have confidence in, so we can do a better job of disease management,” he added.
The predictive model is significant because it helps Ontario’s strawberry industry combat root rot, Schooley told today. 
“Currently, there are very few tools available to manage this disease (Anthracnose Fruit Rot), so, as a grower, you want to time your protective treatments only when needed.
“Utilizing this model can also help reduce the chance of fungicide resistance by reducing the number of applications,” he explained.
Participating farmers will share their experiences with the berry industry at the 2020 Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Convention.
Taras Dovhych/iStock/Getty Images Plus photo



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