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by Aaron Cato - August 28, 2020
Blackberry harvest is almost fully completed in Arkansas with the last bit of primocane
fruit coming off now. Focus for many growers has now shifted towards plant and field
maintenance. Disease management is still important in the time between harvest and
dormancy as there are several diseases than can affect the yield potential of canes
the following year. We are beginning to see many of these diseases take over plantings
with the sustained heat and humidity we generally experience this time of year. Below
we will discuss what diseases to keep an eye out for and what management tactics should
Cultural Control Tactics
Diseases to be Concerned with Post-Harvest
Anthracnose, caused by the fungus Elisnoe veneta, is often the most serious disease in Arkansas that infects canes after harvest.
Spores moved around during rain events can infect the stems of plants and lead to
loss of yield and quality in the following year. Cane lesions (Picture 1) can begin
to depress and lead to cracks in the stem that lead to yield and quality loss. Protectant
fungicides like captan will help to prevent this infection from occurring, and fungicides
with some systemic activity such as Quilt Xcel (FRAC 11 +3) or Pristine (FRAC 11 +
7) should offer some curative benefits for present cane lesions.
Picture 1. Anthracnose cane lesions present on a first-year blackberry cane caused
by Elsinoe veneta.
Cane and Leaf Rust
A disease we observed last year in September was leaf and cane rust, which is caused
by the fungus Kuehneola uredinis. This disease is often confused with orange rust, which has no means of control except
removing the plant. Leaf and cane rust (Picture 2) can be suppressed by many fungicides
and is something we should be scouting for and responding to as it can lead to severe
defoliation and potentially impact next year’s yield. If leaf or cane rust is observed
on primocanes after removal of second-year canes, apply Abound (FRAC 11) or Cabrio
(FRAC 11) or Quilt Xcel (FRAC 11 +3) or Rally (FRAC 3) or Tilt (FRAC 3) or Pristine
(FRAC 11 + 7).
Picture 2. Cane and leaf rust present on blackberry leaves in September 2019 after
removal of second-year canes.
Leaf Spot Diseases
Leaf spot diseases such as Cercospora, Psuedocercospora, or Septoria often begin to
appear in the bottom of the canopy where leaves stay wet for extended periods (Picture
3). In late summer these diseases can begin to move up the plant and lead to a large
level of defoliation if not managed. These diseases will often be cleaned up when
combination fungicides such as Quilt Xcel or Pristine are used for Anthracnose or
leaf and cane rust control. A fungicide application of Quilt Xcel (FRAC 11 +3) or
Pristine (FRAC 11 + 7) or Cabrio (FRAC 11) or Abound (FRAC 11) or Tilt (FRAC 3) should
be made if symptomology is widespread on the lower canopy and appears to be moving
farther up the canopy.
Picture 3. Leaf spot on first-year Ponca blackberry plants.
Guidelines for Disease Management Post-Harvest
Maximizing cultural control will be key in preventing serious disease issues. Anything
that can be done to increase airflow and decrease the amount of inoculum present should
be prioritized. In addition to these cultural practices, regular fungicide applications
should continue after harvest to lower the amount of inoculum present. Captan every
10-14 days (depending on rainfall) should be used as a baseline protectant program
post-harvest. An addition of Quilt Xcel with captan should be considered to enhance
prevention of Anthracnose issues and cleanup both leaf spot diseases and cane and
Checkout the Southeast Caneberry IPM Spray Guidefor fungicide recommendations and give me a call at 479-249-7352 if you have any questions.