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Anthracnose fruit rot

Colletotrichum acutatum (rarely C. fragariae and C. gloeosporioides)

Anthracnose fruit rot is a fungal disease that causes fruit rot and flower blight in warm wet weather. The pathogen is capable of infecting all above ground parts of the plant but these types of infection are less common.


four strawberries with brown spot at varying stages of ripeness

Progression of anthracnose fruit rot

Paul Bachi - U of KY,

Pink and red fruit develop light-brown lesions that eventually turn darker brown and sunken. Rotted areas of the fruit remain firm and dry. Pale orange to salmon colored spore masses cover the lesion during warm humid conditions. Ultimately the fruit dries down to a hard, black, shriveled mummy. Blossoms can be infected at any stage of development. Infected blossoms quickly die, dry out and turn brown. The brown discoloration often extends down the flower stalk.

Important biology

The anthracnose fruit rot fungus is usually introduced to a site on infected planting material. Once established at the site the fungus overwinters on infected plants, plant debris and mummified fruit. Spores are produced in a sticky mass on any infected plant part during warm (68° F) wet weather. Anthracnose spores are spread by water via splashing or wind-driven rain, and by people or equipment moving through the field. They are not airborne so they do not spread over long distances in the wind. The fungus has the ability to attack all plant parts, however fully open flowers and ripening fruit are most susceptible to the disease. Under warm, wet conditions, the fungus will produce spores on infected fruit which spread to neighboring plants resulting in new infections.



If anthracnose has been a problem in the past and weather is warm and wet during flowering and fruit production, fungicides can be applied to reduce infection. Anthracnose is not easily controlled by fungicides and gardeners should expect a reduction in disease but not complete protection. Fungicides with Copper, Captan or Bacillus subtilis listed as the active ingredient provide some protection from anthracnose fruit rot. All label instructions must be read and followed when applying a pesticide.

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