Researchers seek new disease control for southern strawberries

12/12/2011 11:14:00 AM
By The Grower Staff

Researchers at North Carolina State University are teaming with colleagues elsewhere to help southern strawberry growers battle two common diseases: Anthracnose and Phytophthora.

Frank Louws, a plant pathologist at North Carolina State University, received a $169,851 U.S.Department of Agriculture grant to developed an integrated pest managment program for strawberry growers.

The focus will be to prevent plants from being infected, according to a news release.

For plants already infected, researchers will focus on treatment options.

Anthracnose infects plants, so Louws and Virginia Tech plant pathologist Charles Johnson will develop real-time diagnostic tests that can detect the pathogen at low levels.

Anthracnose can be treated with root dips before the plant is transplanted into the field.

If left untreated, the pathogen can cause crown rot or fruit rot, potentially destroying the crop.

Phytophthora, on the other hand, is a soilborne pathogen managed with Ridomil Gold fungicide. But the pathogen is growing resistant to the product.

The researchers hope to gain a better understanding of how the pathogen develops and reproduces to better understand how to control it.

With the help of North Carolina State University breeder Jeremy Pattison, the team also hopes to develop new disease-resistant strawberry varieties.

Two popular varieties, Chandler and Camarosa, are susceptible to both pathogens.

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