Quebec agriculture minister promises help for apple farmers affected by blight
The Canadian Press
Published Sunday, July 24, 2016 12:24PM EDT
Last Updated Sunday, July 24, 2016 6:31PM EDT
Quebec government officials said they are working with those in the apple industry to fight a plant disease affecting orchards in the Laurentians.
Fire blight, caused by a bacteria called Erwinia amylovora, doesn’t affect the fruit itself but does destroy trees’ leaves, which can stunt the growth of the apples.
"The trees are really going bad right now. We need a lot of extra hours to cut the branches, to cut the bacteria off the orchard and it's a lot of work," said apple farmer Anne Forget, who has 2,000 infected trees. "It's all over the place, it's all over the trees, it's very, very bad this year."
Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Pierre Paradis said the government is making the issue a priority and is taking concrete steps to fight the disease.
The minister said all orchards in the Laurentians will be inspected by the middle of August. As of July 21, 60 per cent of orchards and more than 250 residential properties had been inspected.
Paradis said he is aware of the stress the disease is causing apple growers and said there would be financial tools made available to them to help them through a difficult period.
While in Calgary last week for a meeting of the federal, provincial and territorial agriculture ministers, Paradis spoke with his counterpart in Nova Scotia, a province that has struggled with fire blight since 2014. The two discussed what measures that province had taken to eradicate the problem.
In the early 2000s, a similar outbreak occurred in Quebec’s Monteregie region, but was eventually gotten under control.
- With files from CTV Montreal