Strawberries, although relatively easy to grow, do have some diseases they can contract. By knowing what to look out for, gardeners can identify and eradicate any disease in the strawberry patch early, before it becomes a serious problem. Root diseases, bred primarily by wet conditions, affect and kill the roots of the plant. This article will focus on root diseases of strawberries, and describe the signs to look for and the actions to take.
Verticillium wilt is one of the most serious root diseases of strawberry. Verticillium wilt affects a lot of plants, and is hard to control once soil is contaminated, as the disease survives in the soil. Diseased plants start to wilt and turn brown. The best methods of control is to start over with new soil in another location, planting varieties that are resistant to the disease.
Red stele disease affects the roots of strawberry plants. The spores overwinter in the soil and attack the roots of the plants. Infected plants exhibit poor growth, wilt, and die. When the plants are pulled up, the “bark” of the roots comes right off, as the roots are dead and rotted. Remove and destroy infected plants and soil. Red stele disease does not do well in well-drained soil, so improving drainage will help prevent more outbreaks. Buy strawberry varieties that are resistant to red stele disease if it has been a problem before.
Black root rot affects strawberries as well, and it is enhanced by poor cultural practices especially wet conditions. Strawberry patches will thin out, wilted plants when uprooted will exhibit black roots. Roots are often sick or dead, lack feeding roots, and are rotten. To control, remove all diseased plants and rotate the crop elsewhere. Make sure soil is well-drained as black root rot, like all root rots, is enhanced by wet conditions.
These are the three major root diseases, how to recognize them and how to respond. Generally, once plants are diseased, they need to be removed and the location amended. It is best to either buy new plants that are resistant to the disease or save any healthy plants and make a new strawberry patch, being sure it has better drainage than the old patch. Destroy all diseased material by throwing in the trash. Do not compost diseased material.