New threat to apples found in the Hudson Valley

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Srdjan Goran Acimovic/Provided
Cornell Cooperative

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10)–Srdjan Acimovic, a senior extension associate at the Hudson Valley Research Laboratory, part of the Cornell Agri Tech, was the senior writer for a new study on New York State apple orchards. In 2017 and 2018, the study took samples that found a new fungal pathogen that causes bitter rot disease in apples. The report was published on July 6 in the journal Scientific Reports detailing two species of fungi.

Photo of bitter rot taken by Srdjan Goran Acimovic/Provided & Cornell Cooperative.

“We were shocked by what we found, just dumbfounded. We found these two species, one that has never been described before and one that has been described before but never on this host,” Acimovic said.

According to the report, both of these pathogens can cause devastating rot diseases in a variety of other fruit crops like banana, strawberries, and avocado. The dominant species found on the apple samples were C. fioriniae, and C. chrysophilum, which had not been found on apples in the state previously. They also discovered the new fungus C. noveboracense, which is named after New York State.

According to the report, if protective practices are not used in a timely manner, apple losses could be as high as 25% per year and nearly 100% for organic growers.

Alejandro del Peral, the founder of Nine Pin Cider, said that it is not affecting the growers that they source for apples, but that doesn’t mean the growers aren’t nervous about it.

Apples that fall on the ground or have some spots of rot on them get turned into hard cider; the fermentation process sanitizes the product.

Del Peral said that they could use spotted and apples from the ground because the fermentation process is a great sterilizer. This allows them to purchase apples that can’t be sold to sweet cider makers or that people won’t eat because of how the apple looks.

The fungi are limited to just a few growers in the Hudson Valley, del Peral said. He also stated that Nine Pin is not worried about the new fungi, but they are aware it could threaten the growers they use.

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