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New Techniques

The Search for New Integrated Production Methods

Several innovative methods and approaches under evaluation at MSU and elsewhere may help assure consistent and economical cherry production while reducing possible environmental risks. Some example include:

  1. Bt and insect growth regulators.
    Insect growth regulators, which interfere with the development of insects, and Bt, a biological pesticide, control insects in the order Lepidoptera. Most of the species in this order are moths and butterflies that exist as caterpillars or worms when young. Green fruit worm, an early season Lepidoptera pest of cherries, can be severe. Most pesticides applied to control other cherry pests, do not control green fruit worm and good biological control has not been developed for this pest. This results in the use of harsher pesticides that can cause secondary problems, which end up increasing the population of European red mites and two spotted spider mites. The potential of Bt and insect growth regulators for green fruit worm control and for avoiding the secondary mite problems on tart cherries is being evaluated.

  2. Pheromone disruption.
    The future value of pheromones, which disrupt normal mating behavior of insects, in cherry IPM programs is still uncertain. Pheromones could work well in controlling the borer complex (greater peach tree, lesser peach tree, and American plum borers), which dramatically shorten the life of trees. Research continues to develop a pheromone dispenser that will disrupt all three species simultaneously.

  3. Spray application technology.
    Research at MSU in this area continues, with a goal of improving efficiency and efficacy while reducing application rates even further. Equally significant is the fact that spray manufacturers are also developing newer systems to improve spray application efficiency.

  4. Disease resistance and plant breeding.
    Development and planting of varieties with high resistance or immunity to brown rot, leaf spot, and powdery mildew could result in significant reductions in fungicide use on cherries in the future. Potential new varieties are being evaluated for many characteristics including susceptibility to diseases in small grower plantings.

    Varieties that perform well will be released to growers for further testing and eventual planting in commercial blocks. For example, while the Hungarian variety Balaton offers only minor improvements in disease resistance (compared to Montmorency), it possesses excellent fruit quality and may offer unique marketing opportunities for the industry.

    However, varieties that exhibit high susceptibility even to minor diseases are not released for general production. For example, an excellent quality cherry variety from Hungary was not released to Michigan growers recently because of its high susceptibility to European brown rot. This cherry variety, if grown widely in Michigan, would have increased fungicide use even on other varieties due to concerns that disease could spread from infected plantings.

    MSU (in cooperation with the cherry industry) has a large tart cherry breeding program utilizing several potential sources of disease resistance. For instance, seedlings of a cherry cultivar with field resistance to leaf spot in Hungary are also being evaluated in Michigan as a source for leaf spot resistance. Rigorous nursery and field testing is conducted to accurately establish the disease resistance characteristics of the seedling population. although a few cherry seedlings have appeared resistant to leaf spot in nursery plantings, upon retesting they were found to be susceptible. It will take many years to find a genetically usable source of disease resistance and then to incorporate it into acceptable varieties.

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 King Orchards Copyright 2003 Apple Journal
updated- February 14th, 2003
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