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Improved Pest and Disease Management for Blackcurrant Production

Dates: 2010-2015
Funding: Horticultural LINK
Countries: UK 
Scientific Collaborators: East Malling Research (EMR) 
Industrial Collaborators: GlaxoSmithKline Blackcurrant Growers Research Fund; East Malling Trust for Horticultural Research; Bayer Crop Science Ltd; Fargro Ltd; Red Beehive Co Ltd; Ian Overy Farms; Wellbrook Farms; Robert Boucher and Son; Maynards; Bradenham Hall Farms; Bradfield Farm Ltd; Corbett Farms Ltd; J Youngman & Sons; Adamston Farms Ltd; East Malling Ltd
NRI Project Leader: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


BACKGROUND

Blackcurrant production in the UK occupies an area of around 2,300ha, producing a total tonnage of around 14,000t which in 2008 had a farm gate value of approximately £8 million. Much of the crop is currently grown on contract for processing, but there is increasing open market interest in the crop, and the tonnage imported is believed to have increased sharply in 2008.

Reliance on pesticides This has adverse affects on the environment, compromising the sustainability of production as well as resulting in a risk of pesticide residues in harvested fruit. UK blackcurrant growers, in partnership with the British Wildlife Trust, have been at the forefront of improving the quality of the cropping environment for wildlife conservation by a wide range of approaches including deploying grassed headlands, maintaining unmown margins adjacent to the base of hedges, reducing hedgecutting frequecy and establishing new trees around plantations to enhance habitat and landscape. There have been palpable conservation benefits. Grower awareness to the undesireability and need to greatly reduce, ideally to eliminate, pesticide use has been heightened.

OBJECTIVES

This project will develop component management methods for key pests and diseases of blackcurrants, giving priority to alternative, non-chemical methods, and then integrate them into an Integrated Pest and Disease Management (IPDM) programme which will be evaluated and refined in large scale field experiments in the final two years of the project. Work will target Botrytis, the most important disease of blackcurrants which causes significant losses in fruit quality, and two important pest problems, blackcurrant leaf midge and sawfly. The aim will be to develop appropriate improved management methods for each target to improve control whilst reducing dependence on and unnecessary use of pesticides.

RESULTS OF NRI WORK

  • The female sex pheromone of the blackcurrant leaf midge, Dasineura tetensii, was identified previously as part of HDC Studentship CP38.
  • The active stereoisomer was separated by HPLC on a chiral column and lures provided for monitoring trials on growers' farms.
  • Determination of the configuration of the active stereoisomer is in progress with the aim of developing a stereospecific synthesis of this isomer.
  • The blackcurrant sawfly, Nematus olfaciens, belongs to the Tenthredinidae family and the sex pheromone has been identified in only one other species in this family. Extracts and volatile collections from both females and males were made and the compounds present were identified.
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