Friday, January 13, 2012

Disease-Resistant Apple Cultivars

Selecting the Best Apples for Backyard Orchards

Apples, the most popular of the pomme fruits, are a treat for gardeners and hobby orchardists.  Although backyards do not have the immense disease pressure experienced in commercial orchards, a proactive disease-control program is still essential.  Apple production requires a dedicated gardener and often a preventative spray schedule.  An effective disease-management program can include 10 or more fungicide applications, and without some type of program, disease loss will be extremely high. 

Some of the most destructive diseases affecting apple include fire blight, apple scab, cedar apple rust, and powdery mildew.  Their prominence makes organic apple production in Kentucky extremely difficult.  Thus, gardeners desiring low-pesticide fruit should begin with disease-resistant cultivars.  Those included in the table below produce high-quality fruit and exhibit resistance to a variety of diseases.  Incorporation of these and other cultivars can greatly reduce fungicide applications in the home orchard.  However these cultivars have no resistance to the insects that find apples particularly enticing.   Alternatively, bagging individual fruit when they are roughly an inch in diameter significantly reduces fungicide and insecticide spray requirements.

Additional information can be obtained by accessing publications ID-21 Disease and Insect Control Programs for Homegrown Fruit in Kentucky, ID-92 Midwest Fruit Tree Spray Guide, or other UK Plant Pathology Extension publications ( .

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