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New biological control for fire blight

Media Release

5 October 2001

New biological control for fire blight

A new biological control agent for fire blight, developed by HortResearch scientists, is now on the market. It is a strain of Pantoea agglomerans (also known as Erwinia herbicola).

Named Blossom Blessâ and available as a freeze-dried powder, the control agent has been shown to reduce fire blight incidence on apples and pears.

Blossom Blessâ can be delivered to apple and pear flowers using either conventional technology or honeybees. In a trial using honeybees the agent was detected on every single flower randomly sampled from treated apple and Asian pear orchards.

Whether conventional spray technology or honey bees are used to establish the biological control agent in the orchard, honey bees further distribute the beneficial bacteria beyond the treated part of the orchard, and on to newly opened flowers.

Several apple growers in Hawke’s Bay, the Waikato, and in Nelson have been using the powder for the last two years on a trial basis while production was being perfected.

The discovery will be one of the highlights of the international workshop on Fire Blight being held in Napier next week from 8 to 12 October. More than 100 delegates are expected to attend from all parts of the world.

For further information contact Joel Vanneste, HortResearch Ruakura, phone 07 858 4781, fax 07 858 4700, or email

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