How to Manage Pests
UC Pest Management Guidelines
Phytophthora Root and Crown Rot
Pathogen: Phytophthora spp.
(Reviewed 3/09, updated 3/09)
In this Guideline:
SYMPTOMS AND SIGNS
Symptom expression depends upon how much of the root or crown tissues are affected and how quickly they are destroyed. Generally, crown rots advance rapidly and trees collapse and die soon after the first warm weather of spring. Leaves of such trees wilt, dry, and remain attached to the tree. Chronic infections, usually of the roots, cause reduction in growth and early senescence and leaf fall. These trees may be unthrifty for several years before succumbing to the disease. Phytophthora infections typically kill young trees because their root systems and crown areas are small compared to those of mature trees.
COMMENTS ON THE DISEASE
Periods of 24 hours or more of saturated soil favor Phytophthora infections. Conversely, good soil drainage and more frequent but shorter irrigations reduce the risk of root and crown rot. Surface water from irrigation districts is mostly contaminated with Phytophthora species. Rootstocks vary in susceptibility to the different Phytophthora species; none are resistant to all pathogenic species of the fungus. Thus, the success of a rootstock may depend in part upon the species of Phytophthora present in the orchard. In general, plum rootstocks are more resistant than are peach or peach-almond hybrids. Of the plum rootstocks, Marianna 2624 is the most tolerant to Phytophthora.
Proper water management is the most important aspect in controlling root and crown rot. Do not allow water to accumulate or stand around crowns of trees. Provide adequate drainage to low spots in the orchard, areas that flood frequently, and places where water penetration is extremely poor, or leave these areas unplanted.
If you are replanting an area where Phytophthora is present, plant trees on small mounds, as shallowly as possible, or on broad ridges with the upper roots near the soil level. Establish berms before planting; the ridges should be 8 to 10 inches (20–25 cm) high. Planting depth after settling should be no deeper than in the nursery, and the graft union should be well above the soil line.
UC IPM Pest Management Guidelines:
J. E. Adaskaveg, Plant Pathology, UC Riverside