The risk of spreading fire blight in apples after mechanical thinning with a rotating string blossom thinner was evaluated in field and potted-tree experiments. In the field experiment, using the mechanical thinner on noninoculated trees immediately after operating the equipment on inoculated trees significantly (P < 0.01) increased fire blight incidence resulting in 90 ± 20.01 (mean ± SE) infected shoots compared with 23.5 ± 8.97 diseased shoots in similar trees that were not thinned mechanically. A similar result was obtained in greenhouse experiments whereby healthy apple plants positioned adjacent to diseased plants before the group was subjected to the mechanical thinner developed more than twice the number of infected shoots as that on similar plants that were not thinned. These results indicate that under conditions conducive to infection, the mechanical blossom thinner significantly increases the risk of spreading Erwinia amylovora. The use of the thinner should therefore be limited to orchards With no history of disease in the last 3 years and on days when predicted weather is not suitable for tree infection by E. amylovora; otherwise, a severe fire blight epidemic could develop in the orchard.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes