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: Water 'thermostat' could help engineer drought-resistant crops

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

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 ...

Presence of invasive insect in Senegal confirmed

Sep 28, 2012

(Phys.org)—A Virginia Tech-managed research program, the Integrated Pest Management Collaborative Research Support Program, has confirmed the presence of Tuta absoluta in Senegal, the first confirmation ...

Recommended for you

Water 'thermostat' could help engineer drought-resistant crops

42 minutes ago

Duke University researchers have identified a gene that could help scientists engineer drought-resistant crops. The gene, called OSCA1, encodes a protein in the cell membrane of plants that senses changes in water availability ...

Wolves susceptible to yawn contagion

1 hour ago

Wolves may be susceptible to yawn contagion, according to a study published August 27, 2014 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Teresa Romero from The University of Tokyo, Japan, and colleagues.

Walking fish reveal how our ancestors evolved onto land

2 hours ago

About 400 million years ago a group of fish began exploring land and evolved into tetrapods – today's amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. But just how these ancient fish used their fishy bodies and ...

User comments : 0