Acetic acid (AA) fumigation of rootstocks and dormant shoots was explored as a method of eliminating plant pathogens from propagation material. Dormant shoots were tested in early winter to determine the rate of AA vapor that they could tolerate before being damaged. Apricot (Prunus armeniaca), apple (Malus ×domestica), and peach (Prunus persica) shoots collected from a single site in Dec. 1999 tolerated 30, 12, or 6 mg·L–1 AA, respectively. Vineland 3 (V3) and Malling-Merton 106 (MM.106) rootstock liners fumigated with 1 mg·L–1 AA were adequately surface-sterilized although the effect on growth was not recorded. A similar experiment with Malling 9 (M9) rootstocks showed that 12 mg·L–1 AA would eliminate most surface microorganisims from roots although it delayed shoot growth when the trees were planted. The higher 15 mg·L–1 rate delayed tree growth and appeared to kill some trees. The 12 mg·L–1 rate prevented growth of Erwinia amylovora and Pseudomonas syringae pv. syringae bacteria on shoots even when an enrichment technique was used to detect them. Finally, when 96 `Jonagold' apple shoots known to be infected by Podosphaera leucotricha were fumigated with AA in 2001, none developed powdery mildew, although 99% of the control shoots did. These promising results suggest that further research should be done toward adapting AA fumigation for use by commercial nurseries.
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