Researchers working to combat disease impacting SC peaches

Published: Sep. 15, 2022 at 11:36 PM EDT
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GREENVILLE, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - As the peach season enters its offseason, researchers are working to combat a major disease impacting one of South Carolina’s biggest industries.

According to Clemson University, bacterial spot can cause up to $10M in losses each year for the peach industry.

“The fruit doesn’t look good so nobody wants to buy them so the growers actually if there is any fruit with spots on them they just discard them,” said Assistant Professor Plant Bacteriologist at Clemson University Hehe Wang.

Bacterial spot does not change the taste of the peach or pose any threat to people, but can still be detrimental to farmers.

At Fishers Orchard, owner Mark Fisher uses a copper-based spray to keep his peaches from getting the disease.

While he is mostly able to keep it under control, it’s the hot and sometimes wet peach seasons that cause many farmers problems.

“On a wet year, like it rains a lot, you have a lot of trouble getting out there keeping everything covered in the spray material to combat the bacterial spot,” explained Fishers Orchard Owner Mark Fisher.

With a grant from the USDA, Wang and her team are working to combat bacterial spot by developing a spray during the three-week preharvest period, building a disease forecasting system, and more.