Crown and root rot diseases of strawberries

Page last updated: Tuesday, 6 January 2015 - 4:20pm

Please note: This content may be out of date and is currently under review.

Strawberries are affected by a number of pathogens causing crown and/or root rots.  These diseases are becoming more prevalent for several reasons including the withdrawal of methyl bromide as a soil fumigant except under certain limited conditions. None of the remaining options for soil fumigation is as effective, particularly for elimination of Fusarium.

This web page outlines the most common crown and root pathogens affecting strawberries and options for their control.

Fusarium crown rot

Fusarium oxysporum f. sp fragariae

This is the most common cause of crown rot in strawberries in Western Australia, causing major losses in some crops.

Unfortunately the predominant cultivar in Western Australia, Camarosa, is highly susceptible to the disease. Festival is the most resistant cultivar.

Effective fumigation with Telone™ C-35 or chloropicrin to clean up beds between seasons is the best current means of control.

Fusarium may be brought in in planting material but surveys have shown the levels of infection in runners to be quite low.  At the beginning of the season remove any runners showing signs of ill-thrift prior to planting and dispose of them by deep burial or composting.

Pathogens introduced into clean soil at the beginning of the season will spread rapidly. When infected plants are cut open, a brown discoloration can be seen in the crown. There are no fungicides registered for control of Fusarium.

Remove affected plants as soon as they are noticed. Practise good intra-property hygiene and avoid moving soil from infected to clean areas on machinery, footwear or animals.

Ensure irrigation is even throughout the bed and bury the trickle lines slightly to prevent movement. Try to keep the outside rows of plants away from the edges of the beds as far as possible to minimise root heating.