Characteristics of Fire Blight Cankers following Shoot Inoculations of Three Apple Cultivars

in HortScience
Author: A.R. Biggs1
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  • 1 West Virginia University, University Experiment Farm, P. O. Box 609, Kearneysville, WV 25430

Three apple (Malus domestics Borkh.) cultivars varying in susceptibility to Erwinia amylovora (Burr.) Winslow et al., the causal agent of tire blight, were inoculated at biweekly intervals during the growing season. Data were collected on percent infection, canker length, and canker margin quality (a reflection of the overwintering status of the infection). There was a significant cultivar × noculation date interaction, indicating that cultivars that are more susceptible to the pathogen are more likely to develop cankers with indeterminate margins. For `Cortland' and `Jonathan', but not `Delicious', there was a significant linear trend toward forming indeterminate cankers as inoculations were made later in the season. Cankers initiated earlier in the season were more likely to be determinate, which suggests that later-season infections on susceptible cultivars carry over inoculum to the following season. No specific switch-over period from determinate- to indeterminate-type cankers could be identified, and canker margin qualities changed gradually during the growing season. As expected, `Delicious' appeared resistant to tire blight in this study, based on percent infection, canker length, and canker margin type, whereas `Cortland' and `Jonathan' appeared moderately and highly susceptible, respectively. `Delicious' was more likely to form cankers with determinate margins, which suggests that cankers formed on this cultivar are less likely to produce inoculum in the spring than the other two cultivars.

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