Examining the Sustainability of Copper Use for Disease Management and Horticultural Benefit in Tart Cherry Systems

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2006: $145,500.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2009
Region: North Central
State: Michigan
Project Coordinator:
George Sundin
Michigan State University

Annual Reports


  • Fruits: general tree fruits


  • Pest Management: general pest management

    Proposal abstract:

    Economically viable production of tart cherries in Michigan and the North Central Region is dependent on adequate disease control as well as the reduction of the occurrence of soft fruit, a modern problem that can drastically reduce quality and yield during harvest. Experimentation with copper compounds has show preliminary success in controlling cherry leaf spot (CLS), the most important disease of tart cherry, helping manage fungicide resistance, enhancing fruit quality, as well as the potential to improve grower profitability. Successful copper programs would aid both conventional growers, as copper extends the life of traditional fungicides, and organic growers because copper is the only efficacious disease control option in tart cherry. However, copper has been shown to accumulate in orchard soils which eventually leads to a decline in the overall health of agricultural systems. Phytoremediating plants will be investigated as a viable solution to remove excess copper from orchard soils. All research will be conducted in organic and conventional orchards on standard size ‘Montmorency’ tart cherry trees and at the Northwest Michigan Horticultural Research Station.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    The project is comprised of four main objectives:
    1) to incorporate foliar copper sprays into tart cherry management programs and evaluate the effect of coppers on the control of key diseases including CLS and on the reduction of soft fruit at harvest,
    2) to assess the potential of copper-hyperaccumulating plants in removing copper from agricultural soils in greenhouse experiments and at on-farm sites,
    3) to educate tart cherry growers about the utility of copper in their management programs and about phytoremediation, and
    4) to increase the adoption of these practices in the long-term in an effort to promote agricultural sustainability.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.