Family Fruit Growers Conquer Cherry Brown Rot through Rainy Season

September 3, 2014

Family growers George Goodfellow and Joe Klein each own orchards and harvest scores of acres of apples and sweet cherries. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the United States is the third-largest producer of cherries in the world, and both Goodfellow and Klein contribute to that supply.

As lifetime natives to Western Michigan, Goodfellow and Klein are expert cherry growers in the heavier clay soils found in their region. Both farms are located near Sparta, Mich., in an agricultural region commonly known as the “Fruit Ridge” or the “Ridge.”

“The biggest share of the fruit grown in Michigan is grown on the Ridge because of the climate and lay of the land. We have hills, and it rains a lot,” said Klein, owner of Royal J. Klein and Son Farms. While frequent rainfall contributes to good growing conditions, it also encourages the development of disease.

An unusually wet 2013 growing season created ideal environmental conditions for brown rot on the Ridge, located 15 miles north of Grand Rapids, Mich.

Brown rot, a destructive fungus prevalent in cherries, can cause blight, cankers and fruit rot. Brown rot is caused by the fungus Monilinia fructicola and results in fruit infections that appear as soft brown spots that spread rapidly during favorable environmental conditions and when cherries are touching one another.

Wet weather and fruit cracking increase the potential for brown rot development. The fungus has become an increasingly large issue during cherry storage and food supply management.

“The brown rot trouble is the number one problem in the area, and a lot of people actually had to quit picking and harvesting this season,” said Goodfellow, owner of George Goodfellow Orchards, LLC.

Before harvest, brown rot can cause blossom and twig blight as early as blooming, however, fruit susceptibility increases significantly during the last few weeks before harvest. While most of the growers along the Ridge suffered from extensive brown rot losses throughout the season, both Goodfellow and Klein dodged the damaging effects of the fungus.

“I talked with other cherry growers this year and last, and they had quite a problem with brown rot. This year I used Luna Sensation®, and I think I can attribute my success of growing cherries and lack of brown rot to it,” said Klein.

Luna Sensation fungicide from Crop Science provides a systemic solution that delivers uniform uptake after application, and offers exceptional protection against brown rot in cherries. In early May, Goodfellow applied Luna Sensation and found that it lasted longer and was more effective against the fungus than other products. The longevity of Luna Sensation resulted in less applications, and superior control of rot throughout the entire season.

Beyond in-season and storage rot protection, Luna Sensation can provide significant quality improvements to cherries, such as superior fruit finish, improved stem and fruit color, higher firmness and sweeter taste.

“I pride myself on quality, as we sell our cherries directly to the public. I feel that using Luna® helped me deliver the quality to my customers that I expected, and the quality they expected from me,” said Klein.

Luna Sensation controls problematic diseases like brown rot with unmatched efficacy by protecting cherries from blossom to storage and helping growers deliver the highest quality crop. In more than 50 U.S. cherry field trials, Luna Sensation provided the broadest spectrum disease control equal or superior to all current leading fungicides.

Learn more about how Luna Sensation can help you protect your crop.

Luna Sensation Fungicide Application Timing

George Goodfellow:

  • First Cover application on May 20, applied at 5.6 ozs/acre, for Cherry Leaf Spot control
  • Cherries harvested on July 1

Joe Klein:

  • Pre-Harvest application on June 11, applied at 5.8 ozs/acre, for Brown Rot and Cherry Leaf Spot control
  • Pre-Harvest application on June 24, applied at 5 ozs/acre, for Brown Rot control
  • Cherries harvested on July 2