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Agriphage for Fireblight Control

Posted by Brittany Kordick 
Agriphage for Fireblight Control
February 13, 2021 08:40PM
In case anyone was interested in experimenting with Agriphage for fireblight control this season, wanted to pass on some info we've accumulated.

Agriphage Fireblight consists of bacteriophages that specifically parasitize Erwinia amylovora. Phages have a special place in our hearts, as some of my mother's research background involved them, and we've been dying to try Agriphage for the past couple of years.

It's manufactured by OmniLytics, bacteriophage specialists, for Certis. Any questions about the product, go directly to the R&D guys at Omnilytics -- they really know their stuff, are passionate about their products, and want to gather as much info as possible about them. They offered to test Agriphage against anything we want to tank-mix with it, free of charge; we just send them samples.

So far, they've found copper, iron, and zinc sensitivities to be the only things you need to worry about with Agriphage. They've tested Trilogy against it, as well, and Certis is basing their assertion that neem/azadirachtin is compatible on that particular study only. Note, Trilogy has a much lower neem oil content than other products, so while we don't expect any particular sensitivity, we will have OmniLytics test compatibility on TerraNeem or pure neem oil to be sure.

Cost via 7 Springs Farm is $515 per case (consisting of two 2.5 gallon jugs), and not normal stock, so not available without special order. We are lucky enough to live 1.5 hours from 7 Springs, so no drop shipping charges for the many cases we will use this season, but a lump $100-200 special order shipping charge to get it to 7 Springs, then pick it up in person.

Right now, we are planning on applying Agriphage 3 times surrounding bloom, starting at green tip (we know we've got plenty of Erwinia out there for the phages to feast on already after a very bad fireblight year in 2020). We're hoping to mix it right in with our regular holistic cocktail mix, but a surprising component, Micro-Pak, which contains some zinc and copper, may be an issue.

FYI, and will post how it all turns out . . .

Kordick Family Farm
Westfield, NC
Zone 7a

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/13/2021 08:42PM by Brittany Kordick.
Re: Agriphage for Fireblight Control
February 14, 2021 09:14PM
I read somewhere that in tomatoes they were using the agriphage with skim milk powder and corn starch to lessen the effects of UV radiation and, thus, giving the phages a bit more time on the tree. Seems like Surround could be a good step in that direction in terms of phage cocktails (perhaps that's been mentioned somewhere on this forum already, my apologies if so).

I'm interested to hear how this goes for you. Good luck!
Re: Agriphage for Fireblight Control
May 08, 2021 02:29PM
An update on Agriphage from the thick of extreme fireblight time in north-central North Carolina:

We are not completely out of the fireblight woods yet, but we're very pleased with Agriphage so far. After an early sprayer break, we missed out on two intended sprays back to back during bloom and prime infection time. We had done one spray just prior to greentip at that point, and have since picked up with two more orchard-wide sprays, and a couple of variety-specific ones beyond that in our historically bad fireblight trees. We didn't get our pruning completely done, as usual, and the Hewe's Crabs were one of those that missed out -- not good since they were the absolute worst hit with fireblight last year, to the point where they had zero green on the trees at the worst of it, and you can imagine how much dead wood and likely cankers were hanging out on these full-grown M111 trees. So plenty of inoculum out there, probably the most we've ever had, in spite of our heavy lime sulfur and copper and PerCarb sprays while dormant to attempt to clean up as much as possible.

Then the weather: three hard freezes during bloom, one bad hailstorm, and damaging high winds for about a week, which tore everything up pretty good. Lots of damaged tissue, and we've been in a state of perpetual extreme fireblight warnings according to our weather station-linked NEWA modeling for the better part of 2.5 weeks now. We've got some strikes out there, but they are very minor and far less than usual (and far, far less than you would expect following last year's over the top infection rate), not very widespread, specific to high inoculum sites. It ain't over yet, but the labor saved (we haven't had time to cut out strikes, and aren't worrying about killing ourselves to keep up with them for once -- the visual infection sites seem to halt in their tracks after an Agriphage app; more than a week after a shoot goes down, there is no noticeable oozing or spread, it's just . . . dead), etc. is definitely worth the price in a fireblight-lousy orchard in our opinions.

We have enough Agriphage left to do one more spray at a lower rate, but we're going to hang onto that in case we need an emergency cleanup. Based on what we've seen, we will probably use Agriphage again next year to keep going with our bigtime fireblight cleanup, but for other orchards, I envision Agriphage as something you'd do every couple or few years after fireblight gets out of control, just for a big cleanup.

We also have some compatibility testing updates after OmniLytics tested several product samples we sent in:

So two "duh" incompatibles were lime sulfur and PerCarb; they killed the bacteriophages outright.

Several perfectly compatible mixers: Quantum Light, SeaCrop, karanja oil, TerraNeem, ReBound Manganese.

And a couple with caveats: EM-1 and HoloCal inactivated one of the three Agriphage phages at 24 hours, but it was fine at the 4, 6, and 12 hour mark. Per the tester: "My recommendation is to make sure that you mix and spray ASAP when combining AgriPhage with those two. Don’t let the AgriPhage sit out in the same tank with those chemicals for too long." There is probably something in the formulations of these two products that acts to block the receptors on the phage in question. AgSil was another product that passed at 4 hours, but at 8 hours, was starting to kill phages. The tester felt it could be OK to tank-mix AgSil and Agriphage as long as you spray it immediately.

Of our three Agriphage sprays, the first was sprayed alone, out of extreme caution, since our compatibility testing wasn't finished yet. The second and third ones we risked adding mixers and Agriphage was added to our holistic mix cocktail, which contained EM-1, etc., but not AgSil.

Kordick Family Farm
Westfield, NC
Zone 7a

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/08/2021 02:35PM by Brittany Kordick.
Re: Agriphage for Fireblight Control
June 27, 2021 07:10AM
Thank you for this great information. I tried AG this season. Like you, I’m still checking for new symptoms. So far only the Bedan are showing strikes. They bloomed really strangly—in three stages spread over weeks. I missed spraying the last bloom and I think these are the ones that got hit. Also, I did tank mix with potassium bicarbonate once. Do you know anything about compatibility with Pot bicarbonate?

Nat Bouman
Growing cider varieties in Zone 5b
On B.118 at 18X24
Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania
Re: Agriphage for Fireblight Control
June 29, 2021 03:21PM
We are not currently using potassium bicarbonate in our orchard, so did not ask OmniLytics to test it against the bacteriophages in AgriPhage. However, I would fully expect potassium bicarbonate to be devastating to bacteriophages, and definitely wouldn't tank mix AgriPhage with it. While bacteriophages are not fungi, which are particularly susceptible to potassium bicarbonate, they are "living" in a sense, as viruses, and like so many biologicals, are fairly sensitive. The closest spray component to potassium bicarbonate we use would be PerCarb, a sodium carbonate formulation used to treat bacterial/fungal infections broad spectrum; we use it when a particularly blank disease inoculum slate is desired. As mentioned in an above post, we did submit PerCarb for testing against AgriPhage Fireblight, and it killed all three phages in the blend outright upon contact. I would assume that potassium carbonate would do the same, but you never know. If you're particularly keen to do a regular mix of AgriPhage and potassium bicarbonate, I would contact OmniLytics about doing a test, or even just give them a call, as they may already know the answer to this question definitively.

Kordick Family Farm
Westfield, NC
Zone 7a
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