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Neopestalotiopsis Update and Warning

We do now have one likely site with Neopestalotiopsis in Georgia strawberries. We had several sites that were decimated by this disease last year, but this is the first for this year. Symptoms and presumptive spores of the pathogen are showing up in this site, and the plants were obtained from a nursery in Canada that is known to have the pathogen. We hope to soon confirm that we are observing the specific strain that causes disease, but we do not have that information to date. Symptomatic plants have leaf spots and are dying (20-30% loss so far). Likewise, South Carolina has reported one site with symptoms, and plants at this site came from the nursery in North Carolina that was the initial source of this strain. Once the plants are in the ground, it is difficult if not impossible to prevent this disease from setting up permanent housekeeping; the pathogen can go to weeds and surrounding vegetation, so it becomes permanent in the area. To date, we have only seen the disease on plants that come from nurseries that act as a source of the pathogen. Scout your plantings at this time for any symptoms that are similar to those in the photo below, and contact your local county agent should you have questions or need help in identifying this disease.

Presumptive Neopestalotiopsis spores from leaf spots on strawberry plants in Georgia (photo provided by Jeff Cook; 10/22/2021).
Leaf symptoms of Neopestalotiopsis on strawberry (photo provide by Mark Frye; 2020).
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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.