When Winter Ends, Black Rot Season Begins
Black rot is the most common grape disease in the region. If left unprotected, vineyards can suffer high economic losses.
Infection occurs early in the season, usually before bloom, at temperatures as low as 50ËšF. Early symptoms develop as spots on leaves 1 to 2 weeks after infection (Fig 1). Tan spots with darker margins often contain black fruiting structures (pycnidia) in centers (Fig.2). Spores (conidia) from these structures cause secondary infections throughout the season. As leaves mature, they become resistant, but newly developing leaves can become infected anytime during the season.
Fruit infections occur early in the spring, as well. Grapes are susceptible from flowering until 3 to 4 weeks after bloom. Early fruit symptoms appear as light brown spots (Fig. 3). Soon, entire berries turn dark brown and shrivel (Fig 4). These raisin-like fruit develop black fruiting structures (pycnidia) that overwinter on the ‘mummies.”
Both cultural practices and fungicides are critical for control of black rot. Fruit mummies must be removed from vineyards to eliminate sources of overwintering inoculum. Beginning at pre-bloom, a rigid fungicide regime must be employed. Strobilurin fungicides (Abound, Pristine, Flint) provide excellent control, but risk for fungicide resistance is high. Rotate with triazole/SI fungicides (Bayleton, Elite, Rally) and protectant fungicides (Mancozeb, Ziram).
Commercial growers should refer to the Midwest Small Fruit and Grape spray guide for fungicide and schedule details, while homeowners can use fungicides listed in ID-21 and PPFS-misc-7. These and other publications can be found at http://www.ca.uky.edu/agcollege/plantpathology/extension/pubs.html#Smallfruit
Dr. Nicole Ward Gauthier is an extension plant pathologist in the University of Kentucky Plant Pathology Department.