Southern Region Grant Helps Peach Growers Save $20 Million

In 2009, peach growers in Georgia and South Carolina discovered a strain of brown rot disease (Monilinia fructicola) that was resistant to the three fungicides typically used for the disease. For this new resistant strain, one of the three fungicides would work; however, growers had no way to tell which fungicide to use until it was too late.

Funded by a 2006 USDA Southern Regional IPM grant, South Carolina researcher Guido Schnabel and Georgia researcher Phil Brannen created a monitoring kit for fungicide-resistant brown rot. In 2009, peach growers predicted a brown rot epidemic because of the wet spring, perfect conditions for fungal growth. Because the kit had identified high risk areas and growers had modified their fungicide spray programs, the epidemic did not happen. Without the monitoring program, South Carolina would have lost about 10 – 15 percent of their total production, and Georgia would have lost 50 – 75 percent by using the wrong fungicide. In the two states, savings totaled about $20 million in what could have been losses in yields or wasted fungicide applications. The Southern Region IPM Center manages the grant that funded this project.

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