Get involved! Send your photos, video, news & views by texting LU NEWS to 80360 or e-mail us
Orchard disease a priority for the NFU
GROWERS in Shropshire, Worcestershire and north Herefordshire can take control against an orchard disease following talks between the NFU and environment chiefs.
Fireblight, a bacterial disease, was found last year in cider orchards across the county and the NFU has been working with Natural England to look at ways apple trees can be protected.
Natural England protects the natural environment and reports to Owen Paterson, secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs.
The NFU has secured permission from Natural England for hawthorn management to help stop fireblight spreading.
Hawthorn shrubs and trees act as a host to the disease and controlling the time they flower can help stop the bacteria infecting orchards.
Growers are urged to contact the NFU to find out more about preventing fireblight.
Clare Greener, Herefordshire NFU county adviser, said: “As soon as we were made aware of the problem we worked hard alongside partner organisations to bring attention of the disease to growers.
“Despite this some growers lost numerous trees and their businesses were affected as a result.
“We are now turning our attention to controlling fireblight as we move towards the spring.
“Since there is no chemical control available, growers are encouraged to take other actions to help prevent disease spread.
“Controlling the flowering time of hawthorn hedgerows, a known host species, so that they do not flower at the same time as apple trees, is a recognised method of controlling fireblight.
“We have worked with our members, Natural England and the Rural Payments Agency to ensure growers have the flexibility to take control of the situation without fear of running into regulatory restrictions.
“We would really like to see growers take action this year to ensure that this disease does not spread any further.”
Ms Greener said the wet windy conditions of 2012 saw a resurgence of the disease in recently planted orchards.
Growers with an agri-environment scheme on their farm are encouraged to call her on 07771 626080 to discuss options.
Fireblight symptoms include: Blossoms wilting and dying at flowering time.
A white liquid exuding from infections in wet weather.
Shoots shrivelling and dying as infection spreads down the inner bark.
During the short period of active spread, the outer wood is stained a foxy brown colour when the infected bark is peeled back.