Neopestalotiopsis Fruit Rot is not just impacting Florida strawberry producers. It has quickly made its way north. Just ask Georgia strawberry farmer Bill Brim.
“It just wiped (my strawberries) out. As a matter of fact, we sprayed it with roundup (Wednesday),” Brim said.
Brim’s strawberry production equated to 12 acres.
“It’s a pile of money, too, the plants; about $60,000 worth of plants,” said Brim, who is in his fifth season growing strawberries at Lewis Taylor Farms, in Tifton, Georgia. “We didn’t have it last year. If we had it, we didn’t know it. It wasn’t noticeable. There might have been a few plants.”
But that wasn’t the case for this year’s crop.
Neopestalotiopsis causes leaf spots on strawberry plants. It develops quickly and produces spores on the leaves. It can cause severe leaf spotting and fruit rot under favorable weather conditions. The disease was first discovered during the 2018-19 season in five farms and was attributed to one nursery source in North Carolina.
“We’re going to have to change vendors is what I think we’re going to have to do; get them out of California, Canada, somewhere. Can’t grow them in Florida, send them over and plug them out in North Carolina and get a clean plant, don’t look like,” said Brim, who is not the only Georgia strawberry farmer impacted. “It’s not just us, there’s several other growers that have got it, too.”
Disease instances have increased over the past three seasons. The disease was also discovered in fields that had it the prior season.
One Florida producer even called it the “Greening of Strawberries.”