Hot on the Trail of Zythia in Strawberry
As the year winds down, it's still busy over here as we are placing and maintaining trials. In particular, just yesterday I was out with Akif Eskalen, our small fruits plant pathologist out of UC Davis setting up spore traps to support our second year of work on Zythia fragariae, also known as leaf blotch. This work is not only to understand the climatic conditions conducive to the disease, but also the genetics along with potential for better management. It's sort of blue sky work since so little research exists on it, so the arc of discovery here is really great.
While at times this work has been criticized for focusing on a "minor pathogen", we still feel that it is important to create a usable pool of knowledge concerning this disease should it become a consequential outbreak. It's hard to deny here at the tail end of 2020 that gaining an understanding about what many currently think is a minor disease but with the potential of becoming something bigger if the conditions are right is not misplaced.
Setting out spore traps with Akif. Photo courtesy Rod Koda.
What we are talking about. Lesions from Zythia fungus are irregularly shaped blotches on the leaves. Photo courtesy Steven Koike.