Growers warned of disease risks

Soft-fruit and top-fruit growers should be looking at soil sterilisation and fungicide regimes to combat a high risk of disease infection after the season's wet weather, according to researchers.

Research leader Angela Berrie of East Malling Research said a host of root diseases affecting fruit crops will be thriving in moist soil after rainfall this year. She notes that the main problems for soft fruit are caused by Phytophthora, with red core and crown rot being particularly threatening to strawberries. Apple trees are also susceptible to the disease, which can cause crown and collar rot.

She said: "Non-specific root rot, caused by pathogens like Rhizoctonia, Cylindrocarpon and Fusarium can also be a problem for strawberry growers, and Verticillium wilt is another soil-borne disease that can result in significant losses in strawberries and raspberries."

She advised the use of a soil sterilant such as Basamid, from Certis, before crops are planted to kill soil diseases and prevent their spread. This should be followed up with fungicide applications.


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