In 2009, nearly 85 percent of the apples at Mowry’s Fruit Farm were affected by apple scab. The fungus lesions cover leaves and, eventually, fruit. Floyd Mowry lost about one-third of his business to the little brown spots that year. It was a loss he didn’t expect he could sustain two years in a row.
Mowry turned to Janna Beckerman, a Purdue associate professor of botany and plant pathology. Her research had pinpointed the identified resistance in the apple scab fungus that was making Mowry’s fungicide applications ineffective. Beckerman, also a Purdue Extension specialist, determined which fungicides would work best to combat Mowry’s apple scab and created a better spraying schedule.
Back then, Mowry had thousands of pounds of unsellable apples. But one year later, his Crown Point, Ind., farm was 98 percent apple scab free. And not only did he sell the entire crop, but he did it two weeks early.
“I lost one-third of our sales back then. This year, I had almost no scab at all,” says Mowry. “Had it not been for Janna Beckerman and Purdue, we wouldn’t have had this orchard much longer.”