Airblast Application of Copper Fungicide to Grapefruit Does Not Affect Windscar

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  • 1 University of Florida, Fort Pierce, FL 34945
  • | 2 University of Florida, Lake Alfred, FL 33850

Wind-induced blemishing known as windscar and lesions from the disease melanose (caused by Diaporthe citri) are two of the most important causes of fresh grapefruit (Citrus paradisi) cullage in Florida. Copper hydroxide fungicides are the primary means of controlling melanose, but high air velocities from passing sprayers have been suspected of increasing windscar. In 1998 and 1999, airblast applications of Cu(OH)2 (1.7 kg·ha-1 Cu) were made at a range of early fruit development stages to a fresh grapefruit orchard in the Indian River region of Florida. These applications supplemented aerial sprays of Cu(OH)2 that were made uniformly across the entire experimental site at biweekly intervals beginning near full bloom. During the commercial harvest period fruit were sampled from three regions (interior, upper exterior, and lower exterior) of each treatment tree and were evaluated for percentage of fruit surface covered by windscar and severity of melanose. Airblast applications did not affect windscar in either year, but windscar was significantly greater from the upper exterior of the canopy, which is likely to experience the highest natural wind velocities. From these data, it appears unlikely that airblast applications significantly contribute to windscar of Indian River grapefruit. In 1998, no trees receiving airblast applications had significantly lower melanose incidence than the trees sprayed only via aircraft; however, trees receiving four airblast applications were scored as having higher apparent melanose on exterior samples than trees receiving most other treatments. This is consistent with high levels of Cu injury on these fruit which can superficially resemble melanose. Following treatment in 1999, trees receiving four airblast applications of Cu(OH)2 had significantly lower melanose scores than trees receiving either no or only early airblast applications, but were not significantly different from trees receiving a single spray 5.5 weeks postbloom. A computer model, which estimates Cu levels on fruit based on fruit growth, rainfall, and application parameters, indicated exterior fruit receiving four airblast sprays had >3 μg·cm-2 [Cu] for 40 days in 1998 but only 10 days in 1999, which reflects increased probability of Cu damage in 1998. It appears that aerial application supplemented by airblast merits further study as an economical means of melanose control.

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