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  • Author or Editor: Michael W. Hotchkiss x
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Pesticide application in peach (Prunus persica) orchards with a commercial airblast sprayer was compared to that of an air assisted rotary atomizer (AARA), low-volume sprayer during the 2000 through 2003 seasons. The two technologies were employed during early season petal fall applications, shuck split applications and standard cover sprays using phosmet, sulfur, propiconazole, chlorothalonil, azoxystrobin and captan. Ripe fruit, picked 1 day prior to first harvest each season were rated for peach scab (Cladosporium carpophilum), brown rot (Monilinia fructicola), insect (Hemipteran) damage (cat facing), and blemishes. Differences in brown rot, insect damage, and blemish ratings were not detected between the treatments for each of the four seasons. Differences were detected during the 2000 and 2001 seasons for peach scab, with the AARA sprayer plots having a higher incidence. Spray coverage was quantitatively evaluated with Rhodamine B dye by leaf rinses that indicated there was equivalent coverage for each application method. Phosmet residue detection on trees of the treated rows was also equivalent from each method. Phosmet off-target spray movement (drift) was reduced 59% one row away from the treated row and 93% in the fifth row from the treated row by the AARA sprayer compared to airblast sprayer drift.

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The economic cost of pecan scab, caused by Fusicladium effusum G. Winter, can substantially limit profitability of pecan [Carya illinoinensis (Wangenh.) K. Koch] cultivation in humid environments. Laboratory, greenhouse, and field studies found nickel (Ni) to inhibit growth of F. effusum and reduce disease severity on fruit and foliage of orchard trees. Nickel was toxic to the fungus in vitro at concentrations applied to orchard trees, and Ni sprays reduced scab severity on foliage of pecan seedlings in greenhouse experiments. Host genotype appears to influence Ni efficacy with fruit tissue of cultivars of intermediate resistance (i.e., ‘Desirable’) being most responsive to treatment and those most susceptible to scab (i.e., ‘Wichita’ and ‘Apache’) being least responsive. Addition of Ni as a nutritional supplement applied in combination with fungicides applied as air-blast sprays to commercial orchards reduced severity of scab on both leaves and fruit depending on cultivar and date of disease assessment (e.g., scab severity on fruit was reduced by 6% to 52% on ‘Desirable’ in an orchard setting). Nickel-supplemented fungicide sprays to ‘Desirable’ trees in commercial orchards also increased fruit weight and kernel filling, apparently from improved disease control. Although the efficacy of Ni was typically much less than that of triphenyltin hydroxide (TPTH), a standard fungicide used in commercial orchards, Ni treatment of tree canopies for increasing tree Ni nutrition slightly lowered disease severity. These studies establish that foliar Ni use in orchards potentially reduces severity of scab on foliage and fruit in scab-prone environments. The inclusion of Ni with fungicides for management of pecan scab might reduce disease severity over that conferred by fungicide alone, especially if targeted cultivars possess at least a moderate degree of scab resistance. Similar benefit from Ni sprays might also occur in host–fungi interactions involving other crops.

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