Monday, 25 May 2009

Powdery Problems in the Orchard

Orchard-Watch continues throughout the month of May. The Aphids are under control, and all appears to be growing well, with quite a bit of fruit-set awaiting a June Drop or manual thinning out. But careful examination of the new growth yesterday has revealed the presence of Powdery Mildew on one of the Dabinett's.

Powdery Mildew is a nasty little fungal disease, perhaps not as bad as Canker, or worst of all, Fireblight, but very damaging all the same. If allowed to spread without control, Mildew can eventually kill a tree, and at best it is likely to seriously stunt the growth of infected shoots.

Conditions for Powdery Mildew are ideal at the moment. Warm, dry, and following a spell without significant rainfall. Watering the trees would help, and mulching is ideal to reduce the likelihood of Mildew taking hold. Unfortunately, a nice thick layer of mulch is also the ideal playground for free-ranging hens, so wouldn't last very long, and the water butts are feeling the strain with so much garden to irrigate.

Control of the disease without resorting to sprays involves removing infected leaves, buds, and shoots. Pretty drastic action on a young tree with as yet minimal growth, so I'm currently pinching out any dodgy looking leaves in the hope I won't have to resort to such drastic measures, and watering a little more frequently than I have been doing.

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