Georgia strawberry producers need to monitor their plants for Neopestalotiopsis Fruit Rot. It has already caused problems for Florida farmers and nurseries in North Carolina where many Georgia farmers get their plugs from.
“(Georgia producers) should be aware of it. We had a meeting on it again,” said University of Georgia plant pathologist Phil Brannen.
“It has been found in Florida again. Some of the growers down there are ripping up a lot of strawberries and trying to replant with fresh plugs, because they got it in and don’t want to take a chance. It’s causing issues there. Even in the northeast, some people have gotten in plugs up there that have it and the same thing, they’re just destroying those plugs. They don’t want to take a chance.”
According to Strawberry News, Brannen referred strawberry farmers to research done by University of Florida scientist Natalia Peres. Symptoms below ground were darkening of the roots and orange-brown necrosis in the crowns, which leads to stunting or poor establishment after transplanting. There will be stunting, wilting and necrosis of older leaves above ground, which results in collapse and death of the plant.
The common link of the outbreaks so far was the nursery source for the plants.
Not Yet Found in Georgia
“So far, we have not identified it in Georgia. We’re having other issues in our initial starting plants but it’s not that. Thankfully, everything where we have been looking for it we have not seen it or identified it yet in Georgia,” Brannen said. “I don’t know what that means. I don’t know if that means we’ve gotten lucky so far or what. But people that have been getting their plugs from certain sites in North Carolina are seeing problems.
“We know we are getting plants that could have it. But these (nurseries) are huge. We may get a block that doesn’t have it at all.”
Brannen said growers should be vigilant when receiving and inspecting strawberry plants this year. They need to work with county agents to confirm diseases that show up on young and maturing plants throughout the season.
“It’s costing the industry, even if it’s just a cleanup where it maybe an abundance of caution, people are not waiting to see what happens,” Brannen said.
Switch and thiram products are the only fungicides that provide some suppression of the disease.