Apple disease control critical

As a major disease threat in his orchards, Victorian apple producer Brad Fankhauser knows how critical it is he carefully manages black spot.

Mr Fankhauser, who farms near Drouin in Gippsland, says even in a relatively dry season black spot can be a threat, however the introduction of Luna Sensation fungicide to his program in the 2015/16 season proved to be a gamechanger.

“My spot’s much better and so is the powdery,” said Mr Fankhauser, in giving Luna Sensation most of the credit for the ‘great control’ he has achieved.

“We put on two sprays early in that first season; one at flowering and one two weeks later. We didn’t follow them up late in the season because there just wasn’t much spot or powdery, I was really happy.”

Luna Sensation is also highly effective on powdery mildew, a disease considered to be one of the biggest problems faced by Australian apple growers.

While Luna Sensation is ideally used preventatively, reports from the field have indicated the product can also be effective after some powdery mildew symptoms have appeared, a performance that gives Luna Sensation an edge in the marketplace.

While Brad Fankhauser is convinced Luna Sensation is effective on black spot and powdery mildew, figuring out how to get the best use out of it on alternaria though, is still a work in progress.

“Alternaria was always in the background, but never really bothered us, now it most often appears in January,” he explains.

“Going to softer chemistry previously had allowed some of these things to stick their hands up and say ‘Hey, you forgot about me!’”

In a 2014/15 season trial in his orchard, when Luna Sensation was only used late, Mr Fankhauser felt it did an exceptional job on the alternaria.

In 2015/16, Mr Fankhauser believes his decision to not use a third spray may have proved costly, saying “we had two big wins and one little loss”, a lesson he has kept in mind for subsequent spray programs.

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