Strawberry powdery mildew is one of the most important strawberry diseases causing yield and fruit quality losses of 20% or more, equating to around 23,100 tonnes, worth £56m, each year across the UK. Currently, disease control is based on regular applications of fungicides, but growers are looking for more sustainable approaches to manage this serious disease.
Ceres translational funding has supported large scale on-farm testing and commercialisation of a decision support system for strawberry powdery mildew. This system is user-friendly, monitors temperature and relative humidity to identify when conditions are favourable for disease development, and alerts the grower when it is time to spray.
This decision support platform has already delivered benefits for growers involved in the trials by helping to reduce crop losses and fungicide costs. It also promises to have wider environmental benefits by supporting reductions in fungicide usage and decreasing food waste in the field.
This project is a key Ceres success story: this strawberry powdery mildew prediction system is now available via a commercial decision support platform for use by soft fruit growers in 2020.