BACKGROUND: Apple trees are mistletoe's favourite host plant - with more mistletoe on apple trees than on any other species. But does it have favourite varieties? Does it prefer Bramleys to Braeburns, Pippins to Pearmains or Golden Delicious to Granny Smiths? Are some varieties more susceptible to mistletoe infestation and are others more resistant?
Casual observations in the mistletoe-bearing orchards of the SW English midlands suggest that yes, there are differences in mistletoe growth from variety to variety - but documenting this is rather difficult, not least because when the mistletoe is obvious, in winter, the variety is impossible to identify.
But if we did have this information it could be used to produce a League Table of varieties - showing which are best or worst for mistletoe. This 'Mistletoe League' could be immensely helpful for apple growers who want to reduce mistletoe infestation, or for others, often outside mistletoe's core growing area, who want to encourage it.
This 'Mistletoe's Favourite Fruit Trees' survey project aims to collect information on varietal preferences. And it's not just for apple tree varieties; mistletoe also grows, though much more rarely, on pears, plums, cherries etc - which varieties of these are susceptible?
If you have mistletoe on your fruit trees, whether in an orchard or garden, and know which varieties you have, please take a few minutes to fill the survey form.
This is one of several mistletoe survey projects from Mistletoe Matters, based in Gloucestershire, For details please visit www.surveys.mistletoe.org.uk
Results of the survey will be available via the link above in due course. The survey will be open for several years, so rapid results are not expected. This updated version of the survey form (originally part of the 'Mistletoe League' suite of surveys) was released in October 2015.