Fungus fight lacking chemicals

Cucumber growers told to maintain hygiene with lack of licensed chemical controls on market.

With no chemical controls likely to be licensed soon to control pathogenic fungus Mycosphaerella, cucumber growers have been urged to be extra vigilant on hygiene when changing over crops.

Last week's Cucumber Growers' Association (CGA) conference (19 October) heard from Stockbridge Technology Centre science director Dr Martin McPherson who has been leading field trials on the effects of a range of glasshouse hygiene regimes, using spore traps to monitor prevalence of the fungus.

"You might end up losing 30 per cent of your crop to Mycosphaerella, costing you £40,000-50,000 a hectare," he said. "Cleaning up might cost you maybe £1,000-4,000/ha, but the saving is pretty considerable."

A single infected cucumber can yield 300 million spores, making early removal essential, he added.

Independent plant pathologist Dr Aleid Dik said: "Growers in the Netherlands have more fungicides available but even then losses to Mycosphaerella are severe."

Dutch trials have shown some benefit from using the biological control Enzicur - not yet licensed for UK use - from flower and dead leaf picking, and from using so-called "hot knife" or self-sterilising tools. Neither irrigation scheduling nor ultraviolet light were found to be effective controls.

CGA technical officer Derek Hargreaves explained that it would be "another three years" before chemical controls for Mycosphaerella are likely to be available.

McPherson added: "Even when we get some more products, we will have to use them wisely."

Speedier approvals

Cucumber Growers' Association secretary Derek Hargreaves said the association hopes to meet new farming minister George Eustace to press the case for speedier product approvals.

"We are in a ridiculous situation on availability," he told the group's conference. "The companies are trying. The frustration is with the Chemicals Regulation Directorate."


Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Sign up now
Already registered?
Sign in

Read These Next

What should growers make of the Government's migration report?

What should growers make of the Government's migration report?

By holding out the "possibility" of a seasonal agricultural workers scheme (SAWS), the Migration Advisory Committee's (MAC) long-awaited final report, published this week, makes an exception for fresh produce amid its wider call for a shift away from low-skill immigration.

Tractors: market roundup

Tractors: market roundup

Manufacturers are working to provide solutions to many challenges. Sally Drury looks at their newest models.

What does the Agriculture Bill mean for growers?

What does the Agriculture Bill mean for growers?

The publication of the Agriculture Bill this week formally kick-starts the Government's plans to implement a "green Brexit" for farming, the area of the economy most impacted by the UK's withdrawal from the EU from next March.


Follow us on:
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Google +

Horticulture Week Top UK FRUIT PRODUCERS

See our exclusive RANKING of UK Fruit Producers by annual turnover plus the FULL REPORT AND ANALYSIS.

Horticulture Jobs
More Horticulture Jobs

Pest & Disease Tracker bulletin 

The latest pest and disease alerts, how to treat them, plus EAMU updates, sent direct to your inbox.

Sign up here

Professor Geoffrey Dixon

GreenGene International chair Geoff Dixon on the business of fresh produce production
 

Read Professor Geoffrey Dixon