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Scientists studying weather at apple orchards

September 13, 2014

DURHAM, N.H. (AP) — University of New Hampshire scientists are studying weather data to predict when an apple orchard is at risk for infection.

By studying the weather models, the researchers at the New Hampshire Agricultural Experimental Station have more accurately determined when fungicides should be sprayed.

The scientists have been investigating two diseases that can infect apple orchards: apple scab, one of the most pervasive diseases of apples in the Northeast, and bitter rot.

The team has been working with RIMpro Cloud Service in the Netherlands, an interactive decision support system for pest and disease management in fruit and wine production. RIMpro allows the scientists to use real-time weather data to predict when weather conditions will be ideal for a disease outbreak.

This approach differs from the conventional apple orchard management that usually involves spraying orchards once every seven days throughout the growing season with a mixture that protects the trees from apple scab, as well as a post-infection fungicide.

“We’re trying to prepare for the future,” said Kirk Broders, assistant professor of plant pathology. “As climate patterns veer from historic averages everywhere in the United States, we may see historical diseases become less common, the epidemiology of those diseases change, or new diseases appear.”

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