Good Fruit Grower

October 2012

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expert retires Fireblight F Larry Pusey discovered a biological control for fireblight that is now marketed as Bloomtime. by Geraldine Warner or almost 20 years, Dr. Larry Pusey has been focused on researching a single problem— fireblight. As Pusey, 60, retires this month as plant pathologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Wenatchee, Washington, fireblight remains the most economi- cally devastating disease of apples and pears, but important progress has been made in terms of understanding how the bacterial disease develops and how it can be controlled without using the traditional antibiotic treatments. "It's a tough problem," Pusey reflected, "and there are many researchers before me that have come and gone. It's a challenging disease that has been researched for more than 200 years." After earning his doctorate at Ohio State University, Pusey worked as a postdoctoral researcher at Kearneysville, West Virginia, on a project looking at the use of microorgan- isms to control postharvest diseases. His discovery of a strain of the bacterium Bacillus subtilis that was effective against brown rot of stone fruit led to the first U.S. patent on the use of a living organism to protect a plant food product from decay. Optimize Fruit Production Larry Pusey has used crab apples for his fireblight studies, as they can be manipulated to bloom year round in the greenhouse. From Kearneysville, he moved to the USDA's Fruit and Nut Research lab in Byron, Georgia, where he worked on a "smorgasbord" of peach diseases for ten years, before transferring to the Wenatchee Agricultural Research Service lab in 1993 to focus exclu- sively on biological control of fireblight. He was research leader at the Wenatchee lab from 1996 to 2002 but stepped down to focus on his research. Pusey collected large numbers of microorganisms from apple blossoms, adding to an existing collection from pears, and evaluated more than 1,000 strains as potential biolog- ical controls for the disease. The bacterium Pantoea agglomerans strain E325, commer- cialized in 2006 as Bloomtime Biological, proved the most effective at outcompeting the ORGANIC ® ORGANIC Contains Auxiliary Soil and Plant Substances ® "If you want to keep up with the Jones' stay close to Dave Wilson Nursery. Call today to discover the benefits of our complete line of nutritional products. 6 OCTOBER 2012 GOOD FRUIT GROWER (800) 876-2767 We have experienced quality, honesty and integrity as a family tradition at Dave Wilson Nursery." - David Jackson & Fami , - David Jackson & Familly, Family Tree Farms Dave Wilson Nursery Hickman office (209) 874-1821 Reedley office (559) 638-6675 Photo by geraldine warner

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