Crown gall is a disease that has been plaguing walnut growers for decades It costs the industry millions with crop loss, replacing trees and laborious treatments that seem to be never ending. Gall Buster is a chemical treatment for crown gall that hit the retail market in 2016 as an environmentally friendly, worker safe and time saving product to effectively treat infected trees.
Caused by a naturally occurring bacteria in all soils, crown ball is a cancer like growth on the trunk and roots of walnut and almond trees. It acts very much like a cancer in humans and the bacteria changes the DNA structure of the cells infected causing rapid, tumor like growths. It can stunt a trees growth, reduce production and even kill the tree.
Sutter County walnut grower John Lewin experienced firsthand the devastation that can come with a crown gall infection and sought for an economical and safe way to treat the disease. Working with a chemical engineer at University of California, Davis, Lewin developed Gall Buster which has been proven in field test as an effective treatment for crown gall.
“Necessity is the mother of all invention,” said Lewin. “I was exhausted trying to treat the crown gall in my orchard not to mention the costs in time, labor and production loss.”
Lewin planted a new walnut orchard which later became prevalent with crown gall infection. At the time, the only treatment recommended growers was to dig or chop out the crown gall and then burn the effected tissue. This long laborious project could take over 45 minutes per gall. As a small grower, it was a never-ending job.
In 2002, he started mixing and experimenting with treating crown gall in his own orchard. He quickly saw that his invention was highly effective. With neighbor’s encouragement, Lewin sent the product for a field test in 2011 that came back with astounding results of 97 to 100 percent effective. Lewin knew that the product could be valuable to the California walnut industry and started the process to get it approved for use.
“I want to provide a service to other growers,” said Lewin. “Growers need help treating crown gall like I did.”
After five years working with the Environmental Protection Agency, Gall Buster was deemed Generally Regarded As Safe (GRAS) and approved by the EPA. An additional year to get through the California Department of Pesticide Regulation and Gall Buster was on the market and helping growers.
Since Gall Busters founded in 2008, over 150,000 trees have been effectively treated. Gall Busters, located in Yuba City, Calif. is a full-service company. They can come out and treat the crown gall with Gall Buster for you and sell Gall Buster for growers to self-treat. For more information visit www.gallbusters.com or call Lewin at 1(800)330-5521.