A Longer Strawberry Season in Canada Would Require More Fungicide Sprays

Anthracnose fruit rot

Anthracnose fruit rot

Ripening strawberries are very susceptible to anthracnose. The pathogen spreads rapidly through fruiting fields during rainy, warm harvest seasons and can quickly destroy a crop. Light-brown water-soaked spots form on ripening fruit and rapidly develop into firm round lesions followed by the eruption of pink spore masses in a slimy sticky matrix which are dispersed by splashing or wind-driven rain.

“In Canada, strawberry is cultivated mainly in Quebec, Ontario, British Columbia and the Atlantic provinces. Ontario ranks as the second highest strawberry producer (30%) in the country, with a farm-gate value of Cdn$ 20.8 million. Most of the fruit produced in Canada are from June-bearing cultivars, with a season that usually spans 5-6 weeks in June and July. In the off-season, large quantities of strawberries are imported, which were five times higher in 2011 than in 2003. The Canadian strawberry industry has given high priority to cultivation of day-neutral strawberry to become more competitive with the import market and increase the availability of fresh Canadian-grown strawberries to 4-5 months.

Anthracnose fruit rot (AFR), caused by Colletotrichum acutatum Simmonds, is one of the major diseases affecting yield in Ontario and other provinces. Pre- and post-harvest fruit rots caused by the fungus reduce marketable yields and the marketability of fruit, respectively. Long wet periods and warm temperatures (20-25 °C) during flowering and fruit development are favourable conditions for development of anthracnose fruit rot.

With the increase in production of day-neutral cultivars in Canada, attention should be given to the differences in cultivation practices from June-bearing cultivars. Since day-neutral strawberry have a longer cycle of fruit production, the risk of diseases and pests is also higher and thus different management strategies are required.

Since the day-neutral cultivars can be grown for a long season (4-5 months), numerous sprays (8-10) of fungicides are required to control diseases.”

Authors: Burlakoti, R. R., et al.
Affiliation: Weather Innovations Consulting LP.
Title: Evaluation of epidemics and weather-based fungicide application programmes in controlling anthracnose fruit rot of day-neutral strawberry in outdoor field and protected cultivation systems.
Source: Canadian Journal of Plant Pathology. 2014. 36[1]:64-72.

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