Bacteria for Pest Control

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Photo by Adobe Stock/kaentian

Chemical fungicides used in commercial farming continue to be a source of pollution and stress on the environment. However, one of the international leaders in sustainable bioprotection, Marrone Bio Innovations, has announced promising news for crop protection. The company’s bacterial biofungicide, sold as Stargus in the United States, has been approved for use in Mexico. The plant-friendly fungicide combats diseases in zucchini and other squash, cucumber, watermelon, and potato crops. It also controls downy mildews and late blight, common ailments in humid climates.

The active ingredient in Stargus is a new strain of Bacillus amyloliquefaciens, which is now known as B. nakamurai. This strain was approved for use in Mexico because of its low toxicity profile, making it a healthier alternative to the fungicides currently in use.

Mexico is one of the largest suppliers of foreign fruits and vegetables to the U.S. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the country exported $26 billion worth of produce to the U.S. in 2018 alone. Putting Stargus into the hands of Mexican farmers will ease their reliance on chemical fungicides, with ripple effects stretching to all buyers of Mexican produce. Pamela Marrone, the founder and CEO of Marrone Bio Innovations, says that Stargus will be ready to use in the upcoming 2020 Mexican farming season.

In the beginning of 2019, Stargus was also approved for use in Canada, meaning that the product is widespread throughout North America. Now, American citizens can be more certain that their imported foods include less chemical residue.

Historic Orchard Campaign for Seed Savers Exchange

In many ways, apples are an iconic North American fruit, but the limited options available in most grocery stores don’t reflect this rich, yet threatened, heritage. Seed Savers Exchange ensures that more than 1,200 amazing apple cultivars are preserved in its Historic Orchard, protecting the diverse beauty and taste of North America’s 19th-century apple heritage.

Photo by Adobe Stock/ThomBal

The Historic Orchard, located at Seed Savers Exchange’s Heritage Farm headquarters in Decorah, Iowa, has been delighting visitors for nearly 30 years. Today, this incredible collection of American pomological history needs your help to ensure its continued glory as it moves into the future. With the oldest trees declining in vitality, and most of the younger trees sitting in nursery beds where they’re not yet able to thrive, this nationally significant collection is in critical need of regeneration and revitalization.

Seed Savers Exchange hopes to reorganize the structural integrity of the orchard. It’ll develop areas that utilize “high-density” trellised orcharding methods to hold and manage approximately half of the trees in the orchard. Using the high-density concept, one tree of each cultivar would be grafted onto dwarfing rootstock and grown on a trellis, therefore taking up a fraction of the space of a freestanding tree. This reorganization will also allow Seed Savers Exchange’s current collection to be grown within the confines of the 5-acre orchard area at 880 trees per acre, with room to expand the collection as newly protected cultivars arrive.

Funding this effort will enable Seed Savers Exchange to steward and manage this rare and valuable orchard well into the future. Help preserve these apples for all of us to share and enjoy for generations, so the rich beauty and taste of America’s apple heritage will live on. To lend your support, visit the webpage for the campaign.

Mother Earth Gardener
Mother Earth Gardener
Expert advice on all aspects of growing.