Top Fruit technical information and projects

This page contains technical information in relation to top fruit.

Top fruit

Top Fruit is a fruit which grows on trees, for example, apples, oranges and bananas etc. This section contains the latest information on Top Fruit developments.

Technical information

Technology projects

Effective control of apple scab in Bramley's seedlings

Routine control of apple scab through fungicide application during the spring and summer period is essential for business success in commercial apple production. The optimum interval between fungicide application, and thus the total number of fungicide applications during the production cycle depends on prevailing weather conditions, and the associated incidence of Apple Scab Infection Periods (ASIPs). In Northern Ireland, the incidence of ASIPs is assessed using meteorological data from one location.

Current Situation

Given that commercial orchards are situated throughout Co Armagh, different meteorological conditions prevail over the geographical area involved. Because of this, meteorological stations strategically placed across several sites would give better quality information and thus make improved management of Apple Scab Infection Periods (ASIPs) more cost effective. A systems development project was initiated in 1994 with the aim of installing 2 Lufft HP-100 weather stations on Bramley seedling growers' holdings. This facilitated more effective management of fungicide applications for apple scab control through the monitoring of ASIPs precisely, thus allowing minimum pesticide use whilst still maintaining fruit quality.

System specification

The Lufft HP-100 is a sophisticated weather monitoring and recording unit. By taking automatic readings, every 12 minutes, of temperature, humidity, rainfall, light intensities as well as leaf wetness the HP-100's in-built software (based on established scientific knowledge) provides the grower with detailed information warning when critical conditions have been reached for the likely outbreak of apple scab.

Main benefits of the Lufft HP-100 are 3-fold:-

Environmental Impact:

A potential reduction in the total quantity of fungicide active ingredient applied.

Marketing Advantage:

Growers can show due diligence by applying the minimum number of sprays correctly timed for optimum disease control.

Economic Benefit:

This represents the key benefit for businesses in the top fruit industry. Currently the top fruit growing area is 1745 hectares. Average cost for a single fungicide application is in the region of £50/hectare. The scope for savings when using the precision approach to fungicide application facilitated by the Lufft HP-100 are illustrated by the following example from the 1996 season.

Mr P Troughton grows 45 hectares of Bramley Seedling's fruit. Using information from the Lufft HP-100 installed on his farm, the growers scab protection programme consisted of 8 applications from 10 April 1996 until 20 June 1996. When this is compared to the standard scab protection programme (12 applications) followed by a neighbouring grower, savings in the total fungicide cost amounted to 33 percent. Both programmes give excellent control of apple scab.


Whilst the region's growers appreciate the scab warnings broadcast on local radio, based on conditions at NIHPBS, Loughgall, the specific topography and varied weather patterns around the Armagh region, can result in significantly different scab period severity in orchards which may be only a few miles apart. See Appendix II.
Growers depending on this single source of data can be misguided and as a consequence are using inappropriate amounts of pesticide. This is having a negative impact on the environment, market position and could lead to a loss of competitiveness. Financial spending for the control of apple scab is excessively high with potential for reducing amount of pesticide applied, therefore having a very positive economic benefit to the individual using the system and to the wider top fruit sector.


To install a further 6 Lufft HP-100 systems throughout the orchard area of Co Armagh to be linked via modem to a central office to record ASIPs. This system of 7 Lufft HP-100s will make it possible to transfer files of weather data from the data logger on the farm to a PC in a central office by modem. For the electronic data transmission via telephone the data logger is installed in an office or another farm building, whereas the measuring unit with the sensors is situated in the orchard up to a distance of 100 m away. For data transmission the PC program DATTRANS (Lufft) is required. The use of MNP5-modems with data compression and incorporated protocol for error free communication increases the safety as well as the speed of data transmission. The electronic data transfer offers considerable advantages:-

Direct gathering of data at any time, independent of the given distance.
Transfer of all data recorded by HP-100 at 2 minute-intervals, including all calculations such as scab infestation indices and temperature sums.
Unrestricted use of the instrument by the farmer (only during the process of transfer are the menu keys blocked).


  • To have access to up-to-date meteorological information which will be of benefit to all top fruit growers in County Armagh. The system is new technology to the UK and it is critical that all communication links work effectively to obtain maximum benefit from the system. Horticulture and Crops Development Division (Greenmount College) will have control over the proposed system with the communication network vital for the success of this systems development project.
  • To ensure more growers are better informed regarding apple scab infection build up across the Bramley Seedling's orchard and can control apple scab more effectively through better timing of pesticides when necessary.The 7 growers who propose to install the system manage 172 hectares (425 acres) of top fruit on their farms. This should result in a potential reduction in the amount of pesticide being applied, leading to a positive economic gain for the individual growers and also, for the wider top fruit sector.
  • To demonstrate different levels of apple scab infection periods throughout the fruit growing area on a yearly basis. This knowledge is crucial for future business development with potential application for the grower, processor, packer and consumer. Horticulture and Crops Development Division will assist the top fruit sector into the next millennium with this new technology.


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