Also known as ripe rot, anthracnose causes a collection of fungal diseases that often appear in wet spring weather. Knowing more about it ahead of time can help you to prevent it in your garden and landscape.
Anthracnose prefers berries, tomatoes, and other soft fruits, but it is also found on avocados, almonds, lettuce, citrus, cucurbits, spinach, turfgrass, and beans, as well as snapdragons, and deciduous and evergreen trees and shrubs.
Symptoms of anthracnose
Anthracnose can be from one of several fungi. The disease is often called twig, leaf, shoot or stem blight, depending on the affected plant and the visible symptoms. Symptoms look a lot like leaf spot and usually appear after spring rains, especially in areas with poor drainage and inadequate airflow. Symptoms of anthracnose include:
These fungi overwinter in infected twigs, canes, and leaf litter. In spring, spores get bounced onto plants by rain or sprinkler action. In their water vehicle, they attach themselves to a host and use the moisture for germination. Then they enter vulnerable new twigs and leaves and start reproducing like crazy until it gets too hot and dry.
One of the easiest ways to avoid anthracnose in the landscape is to plant resistant varieties. Avoid overhead watering, and prune and place plants for good airflow. You can also improve drainage with compost and mulch. Remove and dispose of any infected plant material. Many weeds can host this pathogen, including chickweed, vetch, and fiddleneck, so remove them from areas prone to anthracnose. Pesticides advertised as able to prevent anthracnose have not been reliable in controlling the disease. Spores can survive in the soil without a host for up to 9 months, so crop rotation can also help reduce infestation. In extreme cases, soil fumigation, fungicide dips, and foliar fungicides may be used.
So, protect your blackberries and raspberries, lima beans and pinto beans, Poinsettias, and those plump tomatoes with good airflow and by watering only at ground level.
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