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Neopestalotiopsis Fruit Rot Warning

There is a new disease that has been reported on strawberries, and it is causing substantial issues for the strawberry industry in Florida.  It is possible that our environment in Georgia is not conducive to the disease, but we should be diligent and on the lookout without regard.  Fungal Neopestalotiopsis species are associated with the disease, and Natalia Peres (University of Florida) has recently published an article about this disease and its management – or lack thereof.  “Below-ground symptoms were characterized by darkening of the roots and orange-brown necrosis in the crowns, which contributed to stunting or poor establishment after transplanting. Above-ground symptoms ranged from stunting to wilting and necrosis of older leaves, to eventual collapse and death of the entire plant. . . . Most of the commercial strawberry cultivars grown in Florida were affected by the disease and the common linkage among these outbreaks was the nursery source for the plants.” These symptoms are very similar to those of Phytophthora root rot or anthracnose crown rot. Fruit spot symptoms are similar to those of anthracnose, whereas leaf spot symptoms are similar to other common leaf spots observed on strawberry; therefore, microscopic examination of spores is likely required for confirmation.  You should be extra vigilant when receiving and inspecting strawberry plants this year; work with county agents to confirm diseases that are showing up on young and maturing plants as the season progresses.  To date, Switch and thiram products are the only fungicides that provide suppression of this disease (~50% control).  We have not confirmed Neopestalotiopsis fruit rot disease in Georgia, though Florida has reported issues over the last year or two.  To reiterate, I am putting out this information out of an abundance of caution, and I hope we do not have issues.   

J.S. Baggio, B.B. Forcelini, N. Wang, R.G. Ruschel, J.C. Mertely, and N.A. Peres. 2020. Outbreak of leaf spot and fruit rot in Florida strawberry caused by Neopestalotiopsis spp.  Plant Disease.

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About Phil Brannen

Phil Brannen is a Professor in the Plant Pathology Department at the University of Georgia. He attended the University of Georgia for his undergraduate degree in Plant Protection and Pest Management, where he also received an M.S. in Plant Pathology, followed by a Ph.D. in Plant Pathology from Auburn University. He has extensive experience with disease management programs in numerous cropping systems. He serves as the extension fruit pathologist for Georgia – conducting research and technology transfer for multiple fruit commodities. His efforts are directed towards developing IPM practices to solve disease issues and technology transfer of disease-management methods to commercial fruit producers. He also teaches the graduate level Field Pathology Course, the History of Plant Diseases and their Impact on Human Societies Course, team-teaches the IPM Course, coordinates the Viticulture and Enology in the Mediterranean Region Course (Cortona, Italy), and guest lectures in numerous other courses throughout the year.