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 there. 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.
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