Monilinia fructicola may not sound too ominous to you but if you are a peach grower, it is. Better known as brown rot, this fungus has the potential to destroy peach crops in both South Carolina and Georgia. Associate Professor Guido Schnabel, a Plant Pathologist at Clemson University and a State Specialist for fruit diseases, is working along side his colleague Phil Brannen of the University of Georgia to combat the problem. According to Schnabel, the brown rot is dangerous because it has become resistant to the fungicides used by growers. Because of this, the two scientists have developed a strategy to rotate the chemicals used to destroy the fungus making it more difficult for the brown rot to resist. “We have recommended that they rotate chemical classes to prevent resistance from happening,” he said.
“And in order for them (the growers) to choose the best fungicide available to them we basically developed a resistance monitoring program that they can use in their respective areas to determine whether or not they have resistance in their fields.”
Schnabel says the monitoring program is a kit he and his colleagues developed that is available to anyone. “They can use this kit which we hand out to county agents, and if a grower wants it they can get it from us, but we basically hand it out to county agents. They collect the fungus from the grower’s orchard and they do the essay. After three days the grower would know which fungicide is affective and which fungicide is not affective anymore.”
According to Schnabel, this method not only saves the growers money but also helps the environment by using less chemicals. He also says that brown rot not only affects peaches but also affects nectarines, cherries, and plums.