Research trials providing critical insights in disease management of apples

Disease management research has been underway this season in the Manjimup region of Western Australia. Nutrien Ag Solutions staff have been assessing the behaviour of powdery mildew and alternaria pathogens in commercial production blocks of Rosy Glow apples.

Trial work has allowed comparisons of various commercial fungicides and their behaviour against different stages of disease lifecycle development. 

Nutrien Ag Solutions Manjimup Agronomist Adam Chapman said these are critical trials to undertake, particularly given the resurgence in interest for export production with new varieties in the region.  

“They allow us to assess the value of different fungicide products, and formulate adaptable strategies suited to both export and domestic production systems. 

“Various fungicides have different withhold periods when used in export production and this can result in sizable changes to the disease control strategies we deploy with growers.” 

“We need to take an adaptive mindset to disease management. Instead of writing a program upfront, we need to use the knowledge that we get from trials to adapt to seasonal conditions and take time to understand what is happening in the field,” Chapman said. 

Scott Paton, Nutrien Ag Solutions Research Agronomist, said the field research trials generate valuable independent, scientifically valid, data sets for our agronomy staff to reference.  

“Our agronomists are more confident with recommendations for varying conditions and problems they may encounter, suppliers have a better understanding of how their product is being used in the market and growers will benefit from an increased practical understanding of disease management. We are working with industry to present these findings to all the relevant groups at industry events,” Paton said. 

Field extension walks were conducted over the course of the summer, culminating in some sessions as part of the Western Australian Apple Variety and Innovation Conference. Attendees of this conference included local, interstate and international visitors. Field activities have come to an end which marks a period of data entry and analysis prior to grower discussions for disease program strategies with growers in the coming months.  

Scott Paton and Adam Chapman are both agronomists at Nutrien Ag Solutions. If you’re looking to start your career as an agronomist, check out the Nutrien Ag Solutions Graduate Program, open now for 2024 intake. 

Pictured: Scott Paton and Scott Gibellinni