Rains hamper farmers' fungus battle

2013-01-23 14:48
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Aid for Limpopo flood victims

2013-01-23 10:22

Extensive flooding in the Lowveld has left entire villages in Limpopo devastated. Although aid has been provided to residents, many have lost everything. Watch.WATCH

Johannesburg - Heavy rains and flooding have made it difficult for Limpopo fruit farmers to control a fungus threatening to destroy their produce, Agri SA said on Wednesday.

The black spot bacteria rendered fruit from the farms unsuitable for trade, the farmers' organisation's deputy president Theo de Jager said.

The bacteria - prevalent throughout the farming season, but favouring wet conditions - could be prevented by spraying the produce with a copper-based chemical.

"Some farmers are experiencing trouble getting into the orchards to be able to spray the fruit, because of the heavy rains," De Jager said.

"Others have lost lots of money after they sprayed their fruit before the heavy rains, so they'll have to go and spray them again."

De Jager, who owns 12 hectares of an avocado farm, said it cost him around R13 000 to treat his produce.

While other black spot-preventing products were available on the market, exporters were only allowed to use the copper spray, De Jager said.

The black spot bacteria had no direct impact on the taste of the fruit, but the tarnished produce was usually sold at lower prices and used to make other food and juice products.

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