Grape Anthracnose (Elsinoe ampelina)
Bruce Bordelon, Professor, Horticulture & Landscape Architecture, Purdue University
We’ve had numerous reports from both commercial vineyards and home grape plantings this year of anthracnose, or Bird’s eye rot. This disease is common, but seldom a major problem except in very wet years. All the rain we’ve had this year in central and northern Indiana is making the disease worse than normal.
Anthracnose can infect all green grape tissues. Symptoms first appear early in the year on the first few internodes of new shoots. They are deep lesions with dark margins and a gray center (Figure 1.) If the disease spreads to young tissue, it can distort and kill the shoot tips, giving the shoots a burned appearance. Leaf lesions often cause the leaf to distort and curl. Centers of the spots often fall out, leaving a shot-hole appearance. The disease spreads to developing berries. Berry lesions appear as a dark spot with a gray center, giving the disease its common name, Bird’s eye rot (Figure 2). Bird’s eye rot is mostly cosmetic as it does not affect the eating or processing quality of the fruit. Severe infection, however, can reduce vine vigor and yield.
Control of anthracnose can be relatively easy. The best method is to apply a delayed-dormant application of liquid lime sulfur or Sulforix (calcium polysulfide). This fungicide effectively kills the developing spores (primary inoculum) at the beginning of the season, and prevents the disease from becoming established. If this spray is missed and the disease becomes established, control is more difficult. Lime sulfur will burn tender foliage so it must be applied just as buds are swelling, but before the leaves are exposed. After bud break mancozeb, captan and the stobilurin fungicides such as Abound or Sovran can provide some control and keep the disease from spreading. But the single application of lime sulfur usually provides nearly complete control. That’s why it’s important for growers with a significant problem this season to plan ahead for an early season fungicide application next year.
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