By Clint Thompson
A familiar disease has already made its presence known in South Florida strawberries this season. Growers in Alabama and Georgia should be aware about neopesatlotiopsis being an issue.
A familiar disease has made its presence known in South Florida strawberry fields this season. A rainy start to the growing season contributed to neopestalotiopsis being a problem already.
“We had a little bit of a wet start, so there is some neopestalotiopsis out there, that new disease,” said Matt Parke, farm manager of Parkesdale Farms in Plant City, Florida.
Parke was one of two growers that confirmed that neopestalotiopsis has been spotted in their fields.
The other producer is Dusty Grooms with Fancy Farms in Plant City, Florida.
“We definitely have neopestalotiopsis. It’s out here. Some blocks are worse than others. We are definitely spraying some things for it, trying to combat it,” Grooms said.
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 has been a concern ever since it was first discovered during the 2018-19 season across five farms in Florida. It was attributed to one nursery source in North Carolina. More than 20 farms experienced the disease during the 2019-20 season, and the disease was attributed to two nursery sources early in the season in North Carolina and Canada. It was also discovered during the 2020-21 seasons in fields that had it the prior season.
“We’re trying to do cultural practices as far as trying not to pick those blocks that we see it in presently when it’s wet. It’s a huge concern especially around rainstorms. We’re always watching out for them,” Grooms said. “There’s people that are doing late starts and have the bushes dry off and picking past dark trying to combat it. It’s here.”