Localized storms hit Washington apples

07/26/2012 04:56:00 PM
Vicky Boyd

hail stonesCourtesy Mike DoerrWashington state apple growers are still trying to assess damage caused by a series of thunder and hail storms last week, although they say they believe there still will be ample fruit.

On top of the storms, growers also should be on the lookout for fire blight, a bacterial disease of apples, according to a news release.

The thunder and hail storms were spotty.

hail-damaged appleGerrit Hoogenboom/Washington State UniversityExtension specialists have warned growers with apple orchards hit by hail to be on guard for fire blight.An AgWeatherNet station at Sunnyside, for example, received 0.75 inches of rain during just 15 minutes whereas a nearby station received no rain.

Wounds caused by storm damage open the tree up to fire blight infection, according to Tim Smith, Washington State University Extension educator and a noted fire blight expert.

"If there already was fire blight in a block, the wounding caused by the hail and the wet conditions generally are conducive to the spread of fire blight,” he said in the release.

Producers should scout their orchards 10 to 14 days after the latest storm.

They can save trees by pruning out infected branches, according to the release.



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