Fish Extract Products Can Control Foliar Diseases in Organic Blueberries

| 3/7/2012 12:14:55 PM

Fish Extracts
Fish extract products have been found to suppress important foliar diseases in organic blueberries, based on the results of a University of Georgia study.

Harald Scherm, a UGA plant pathologist, received a two-year $119,000 Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SARE) grant to study the effects of fish product formulations on suppressing leaf diseases and pests, and improving foliar nutrition in organic blueberry trials in Georgia.

"Before we initiated the study, we received anecdotal evidence from some growers that fish products (oils and emulsions) provide some benefits," said Scherm. "So this study sought to kill three birds with one stone by developing an integrated system for disease, insect and nutrient management in organic blueberries using fish-derived products as a foliar spray."

Researchers found that the four of the six fish extract products they evaluated significantly suppressed Septoria leaf spot and leaf rust, two common diseases of organic blueberries. However, the impacts on controlling the leaf beetle pest and boosting foliar fertility were less clear.

"The impact of the fish products on the leaf beetle was inconsistent, and the products did show some benefits in boosting foliar nutrition, but more so for plants growing in low-fertility sites than for plants growing in soils with higher fertility rates," said Scherm. "With these results, we know that the products work in controlling disease pathogens."

Scherm said that research literature supports the theory that fish extract products have an indirect effect in controlling the disease pathogens by boosting the defense responses in the plant.

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