By Clint Thompson
The extended dry period in South Florida has been a boost for strawberry production.
Natalia Peres, Professor of Plant Pathology at the University of Florida/IFAS Gulf Coast Research and Education Center, believes weather conditions have been favorable for strawberries early in the season and diseases have been minimal so far.
“It’s been pretty quiet. We’re good, I would say with this weather we have had for the past 16 days now. It’s been cool and it’s been dry, so it’s not as favorable for diseases,” Peres said. “It really gives the growers a little break from all the disease pressure we usually have.”
Strawberry producers really appreciate the dry weather’s impact on Neopestalotiopsis Fruit Rot, the disease that has worsened every year since it was first discovered in Florida strawberries during the 2018-19 season.
“This weather we have now is really the best thing we can get for it,” Peres said. “It is out there. We’ve seen samples in the clinic and confirmed it, but it definitely is not as bad as last year. By now last year, there was a lot more. If you remember last year in November, we had that tropical storm. That really blew up things everywhere. Not having that this year and having some nice and cool weather, (the disease is) really not as much as last year.”
Neopestalotiopsis causes leaf spots on strawberry plants. It develops quickly and produces spores on the leaves. It can cause severe leaf spotting and fruit rot under favorable weather conditions.