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Published: Sunday, 6/6/2010

Apple tree blight attacking northern Michigan orchards


TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. - An unidentified blight is being blamed in the deaths of some apple trees in northern Michigan, and agricultural researchers are working to determine what is to blame for the disease.

The disease has killed some McIntosh apple trees grown from dwarf rootstock, the Traverse City Record-Eagle reported yesterday.

Nikki Rothwell, head of the Northwest Michigan Horticultural Research Station in Leelanau County, said the problem also is being reported at some

McIntosh orchards in western Michigan and in New York state.

The disease has been identified in four McIntosh varieties, Ms. Rothwell said.

Farmers plant trees from dwarf rootstocks because they grow smaller than standard trees. It's easier for pickers to harvest apples and the smaller size allows trees to be planted closer together.

David White of Interwater Farm in Williamsburg said the disease has affected about 20 percent of his

McIntosh crop.

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