Monday, June 18, 2012

Black Rot Common on Grape

Black rot is the most common disease of grape in Kentucky.  If left unprotected, vineyards can suffer high economic losses. 

Infection occurs early in the season, usually before bloom, at temperatures as low as 50˚F.  Early symptoms develop as spots on leaves 1 to 2 weeks after infection (Fig 1).  Tan spots with darker margins often contain black fruiting structures (pycnidia) in centers (Fig.2).  Spores (conidia) from these structures cause secondary infections throughout the season.  As leaves mature, they become resistant, but newly developing leaves can become infected anytime during the season.
Fig 1.  Leaf lesions have light tan centers and darker brown margins.

Fruit infections occur early in the spring, as well.  Grapes are susceptible from flowering until 3 to 4 weeks after bloom.  Early fruit symptoms appear as light brown spots (Fig. 3).  Soon, entire berries turn dark brown and shrivel (Fig 4).  These raisin-like fruit develop black fruiting structures (pycnidia) that overwinter on the “mummies.” 

Fig 2.  Fruiting structures (pycnidia) produce spores that cause secondary infections.  They can be seen with a magnifying glass, and often with the naked eye.

Both cultural practices and fungicides are critical for control of black rot.  Fruit mummies must be removed from vineyards to eliminate sources of overwintering inoculum.  Beginning at pre-bloom, a rigid fungicide regime must be employed.  Strobilurin fungicides (Abound, Pristine, Flint) provide excellent control, but risk for fungicide resistance is high.  Rotate with triazole/SI fungicides (Bayleton, Elite, Rally) and protectant fungicides (Mancozeb, Ziram).

Fig 3.  Fruit infections begin as light brown spots.  Note:  bird’s eye rot (anthracnose) infections on fruit have dark reddish margins with light gray centers.

Commercial growers should refer to the Midwest Small Fruit and Grape spray guide for fungicide and schedule details, while homeowners can use fungicides listed in ID-21 and PPFS-misc-7.  These and other publications can be found at
Fig 4.  Soon after infection, grapes with black rot disease turn dark and shrivel into hard, black mummies.  Fruiting bodies (pycnidia) that develop are the primary source of overwintering for this fungus.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Fire Blight Damage on Flowering Pear

Homeowners continue to question me concerning management of fire blight in flowering pear, crabapple, cotoneaster, hawthorn, and pyracantha.  Shepherd’s crooks and spur dieback occurred in March or April, as pathogenic bacteria infected flowers or young shoots.  Often, homeowners do not notice damage until later in the season, and inquiries continue for weeks after damage occurred.

There is no management option during this time of year, as the fire blight bacterium is not currently active.  Hot summer temperatures suppress bacterial growth, and plants are able to compartmentalize and wall off spread.  Thus, visible symptoms are the result of early infections. 

Current recommendations indicate that pruning of blighted twigs and cankered branches should be delayed until winter when risk of disease spread is lowest.  Under certain circumstances, homeowners or commercial landscape contractors may choose to prune infected branches during the growing season.  Only young, vigorous trees should be considered, and care should be taken to prevent bacterial spread.  Always avoid working with wet plants.  Cut branches at least 6 to 8 inches below cankers, disinfesting pruners between each cut (10% Lysol disinfectant, 10% bleach, or rubbing alcohol).  Ideally, winter pruning is recommended. 

Disease management includes both cultural practices and preventative bactericides.  Because the fire blight bacterium overwinters in cankered branches, removal of diseased plant tissue before bud break (mid to late winter) is critical.  Copper applied as buds swell (late dormancy or silver tip) reduces build-up of bacterial cells, especially during warm rainy spring seasons.  Streptomycin applications are only recommended for fruiting apple and are not labeled for use in the landscape. 

See earlier posts for more information on the biology of the fire blight bacterium and for management in orchards.