Extension helps strawberry growers fight aggressive plant disease

Mar 31, 2008
Extension helps strawberry growers fight aggressive plant disease

Virginia's strawberry growers have been dealing with an uninvited guest in their fields this winter, anthracnose crown rot, one of the most destructive diseases of strawberries in the southeastern United States.

“If left undetected, the disease can spread quickly through a field and cause significant damage to the strawberry plants,” said Calvin Schiemann, agricultural and natural resources Extension agent in Virginia Beach. “Early detection and treatment hopefully has reduced its impact on this year’s crop.”

Although, not typically a problem in Virginia, anthracnose crown rot is common in other southern states because it thrives in warm, moist weather conditions.

In December, a grower noticed an unusual number of suspect plants in his field and contacted Schiemann with his concerns. Schiemann and Jeremy Pattison, assistant professor and Extension small fruits and specialty crops specialist at the Southern Piedmont Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Blackstone, along with Mahfuzur Rahman from North Carolina State University’s Department of Plant Pathology collaborated to quickly to identify disease and determine the extent of the problem.

The researchers determined that the disease was originally transferred to Virginia through nursery stock from North Carolina that was inflected with the disease-causing pathogen. Schiemann and Pattison immediately began encouraging growers to survey their fields for signs of the disease and have been providing spray recommendations for fungicides to slow the spread of the disease in infected fields. If left untreated, the disease attacks the plant and causes wilting and the plant quickly dies.

Since the disease is most aggressive in warm and humid weather, Pattison is uncertain what the final impact will be for Virginia strawberry growers. More plants may be infected, but will not show symptoms until the weather warms up. “Many growers are currently reporting a 5 percent to 20 percent plant loss per acre, an economic loss of $1,200 to $4,500 in plants and potential fruit. Losses could rise as high as 50 percent in some cases,” he said. Although this will impact the growers’ bottom line, any increase in fruit prices will more likely be associated with the rise in input costs such as fuel and fertilizer, explained Pattison.

Anthracnose crown rot has not been a major problem in Virginia in the past, but Pattison stresses that growers should expect this disease to show itself again. Not much is known about how the disease will persist in grower’s fields and how it will impact next season’s crop. Researchers have already stepped up their efforts to look at the disease from a genetic perspective for possible long-term solutions.

Although growers have been dealt this unanticipated challenge this winter, they are still hoping for a good crop of berries as long as they can weather any late spring frosts, according to Schiemann. “With the warm winter the plants are in an advanced stage of growth. We have a lot of blooms forming and crowns that will need to be protected from cold weather and frost,” he said.

Source: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Explore further: The inside story: MRI imaging shows how plants can inspire new engineering materials

Related Stories

Yeasts on plums have a plus side

Jun 10, 2015

Some naturally occurring yeasts may be useful for protecting stone fruits against pathogens that attack after harvest. Scientists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) looked to the microflora on the ...

Virus that causes grapevine red blotch disease identified

Feb 22, 2013

(Phys.org)—New DNA sequencing technology has been used to identify the virus that causes red blotch, a disease that discolors grape leaves in fall and lowers sugar levels in grapes, agricultural nursery managers were told ...

Study shows promise for East Coast broccoli industry

Jan 09, 2013

Chefs and home cooks in the eastern U.S. could soon have easier access to a local "super food," thanks to a Cornell-led team of researchers working to expand broccoli's availability at farms, farmer's markets ...

Sesearchers unravel life cycle of blue-crab parasite

Oct 04, 2012

Professor Jeff Shields and colleagues at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science have succeeded in their 15-year effort to unravel the life history of Hematodinium, a single-celled parasite that afflicts blue c ...

Recommended for you

Can pollution help trees fight infection?

4 hours ago

Trees that can tolerate soil pollution are also better at defending themselves against pests and pathogens. "It looks like the very act of tolerating chemical pollution may give trees an advantage from biological ...

Improving rice flour to aid food poverty

4 hours ago

A new, high-quality rice flour could help towards aiding global food poverty. "This rice flour serves not only as an alternative to wheat flour for those with wheat intolerance, but could also help to overcome ...

Stink bugs have strong taste for ripe fruit

6 hours ago

The brown marmorated stink bug has a bad reputation. And for good reason: every summer, this pest attacks crops and invades homes, causing both sizable economic losses and a messy, smelly nuisance—especially ...

Researchers discover how petunias know when to smell good

8 hours ago

Good timing is a matter of skill. You would certainly dress up for an afternoon business meeting, but not an evening session of binge-watching Netflix. If you were just a few hours off in your wardrobe timing, ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.