Monitoring cherry postharvest rot and predictive analysis
Postharvest rot of sweet cherry destined for export markets has caused significant economic losses to Okanagan growers. The major fungal pathogens causing rot have not been identified. This project will identify the two major pathogens responsible for postharvest rot in cherry during two growth seasons and characterize them with respect to temperature effects on growth and sensitivity to fungicides. Using DNA-based methods we will track the abundance of the pathogens in the orchard during the growth cycle of cherry, following major rain events and postharvest. Abundance in the orchard will be correlated with disease incidence postharvest and with weather data to begin to build an Okanagan-specific model to predict the risk of postharvest rot in sweet cherry under varying environmental conditions. This will assist growers in making efficient use of chemical controls, improve fruit quality and reduce postharvest losses.