Since the National Organic Program began in 2002, it has allowed the use of antibiotics to control fire blight on apples and pears, because it deemed there was no organic alternative.
But the National Organics Standards Board, which reviews allowable products, has recently decided that use of those products for fire blight control will no longer be allowed after Oct. 21, 2014.
These products are based on biological organisms, many of which produce antibiotics on their own.
They have been extensively tested around the country as stand-alone replacements for streptomycin and oxytetracline, the two antibiotics most commonly used for fire blight.
In field trials in Oregon, a program using Bloomtime Biolotical followed by Blossom Protect provided fire blight control similar to ones that included antibiotics.
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The Bloomtime Biological protected the flower stigma, while the Blossom Protect protected the nectary.
Learn more about alternative fire blight control by viewing a webinar from Oregon State University.
What researchers stil don't know is how those products will work under organic fruit thinning practices that use lime sulfur plus fish oil.