The Q&A Archives: Strawberries turning brown

Question: My strawberries produce nice fruits, but they're turning brown and leathery and rot before they finish ripening. What's the problem? Bill Ford Wichita, KS

Answer: The problem with your strawberries is 'leather rot', Phytophthora cactorum , says Frank Morrison, small fruit specialist at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas. We've been seeing more of this soilborne fungal disease in strawberry fields when the fruits are maturing - especially during prolonged periods of rainy or humid weather. Leather rot attacks both immature and mature berries. On green berries, infected areas are dark brown. On ripe fruit, the areas are white to purple. Infected fruits are tough, leathery, and have a bitter taste, says Morrison. The best controls for this disease are preventive measures. Mulch the plantings with straw, so strawberries aren't sitting on the soil where the fungal spores reside, says Morrison.Promptly remove any berries showing signs of the disease. Space plants 18 inches apart so air can circulate and the leaves will dry quickly.

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