The Q&A Archives: Strawberry get brown tinge, then rot

Question: Each year my strawberry fruits get a brownish tinge on their skin, then the whole fruit rots, turning gray. What's the problem?

Answer: You've described the symptoms of the fungal disease called anthracnose, common on strawberries in Texas, says Gerald Johnson, plant pathologist at Texas A M University at College Station. The disease overwinters on strawberry plants and leaves, reinfecting the plants in spring during warm (about 70oF), wet weather. Anthracnose causes not only fruit rot, but also vascular wilt and leaf spot. If left unchecked, it can kill the plant, Johnson explains. Your best defense against the disease is to grow strawberries as an annual. That will allow you to thoroughly clean up the planting area. Set new plants in October, pick fruit in March and April, dig up the plot in July and replant in October, in a new, uninfected location. Strawberries just can't make it through our hot summers, says Johnson. When removing plants in summer, make sure to clean all the foliage and rotted fruit out of the garden. Don't till the residues into the soil. Plant the new crop in a different location in the garden andplant anthracnose resistant varieties such as Chandler, he says. Some of the infection may come from the introduction of diseased plants into your garden, notes Johnson. Buy from a professional grower who offers certified plants.

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