Influence of Alternative Copper Fungicide Formulations on Copper Content in Apple Fruits

  • Kurnik V
  • Gaberšek V
  • Unuk T
 et al. 
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Field trials were carried out from 2008 to 2011 at Maribor, Slovenia to determine the effect of new copper fungicide formulations on the copper content in apple fruits, separated in peel and flesh, of seven cultivars at harvest. Apple trees were treated 12-18 times per season with formulations based on copper oxychloride or sulphate (trial standards), copper hydroxide and their complexes or chelates with amino acids, peptides, EDTA, urea, and octanoic or gluconic acids at the same rate of 200 g of pure copper ions (Cu2+) per hectare irrespetive of the product. Copper formulations were applied with Teejet 800067 flat fan nozzles mounted on a vertical boom of the sprayer, which gave a droplet volume median diameter (VMD) of 120 microns and 130-180 droplet impacts per square centimeter, as determined on water sensitive papers. The new formulations of copper in the form of salts of fatty acids or organic complexes or chelates had a higher penetration rate into apple fruit tissue than the traditional formulations based on Cu-hydroxide, Cu-oxychloride and Cu-sulphate. The copper content in the fruit depended on the ratio between copper solubility in the formulation, rate of penetration into the fruit and stability of the copper fungicide deposit on the fruit surface. Despite being applied at lower hectare rates, frequent applications led to the exceeding of the permitted EC maximum residue level of 5 mg/kg fresh mass (FM). MRL was most often exceeded with the application of formulations based on Cu-octanoate and Cu-gluconate and less often in case of the application of complexes of copper with amino acids, peptides or urea. A comparison of the copper content between different cultivars showed that cv. 'Jonagold', 'Golden Delicious' and 'Elstar' accumulated more cooper than other cultivars. Copper concentrations in the peel exceeded that of the flesh at least twice. The potential effects of accumulation of copper in woody tissue of bearing shoots after long-term application of highly systemic copper formulations on growth and blooming of apples are discussed too. Some apple growers may not be aware of much higher penetration rate of these new copper products (fungicides, fertilisers or plant strengtheners) and should be warned about the necessity to adapt their spraying schedules despite applications of a low hectare rates of copper, i.e. the number of treatments and proper seasonal timing, to avoid exceeding of EU MRL of copper in fruit.

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  • Vili Kurnik

  • Vesna Gaberšek

  • Tatjana Unuk

  • Stanislav Tojnko

  • Andrej Vogrin

  • Stanislav Vajs

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