Phytophthora root and crown rot (Red stele) on strawberries—Phytophthora spp.
Phytophthora root and crown rot may appear anytime during the season, and is first seen as stunted growth
or wilted young leaves. Wilting spreads to the rest of the plant and some leaves may turn reddish. Crown
tissue is discolored brown or reddish brown. Wilted plants eventually collapse and die. Stunted plants
usually remain stunted for the rest of the season.
Phytophthora crown rot can be distinguished from other diseases by the appearance of crown tissue discoloration and decay. The decay usually starts at one point on the crown and spreads around the crown until the entire plant is girdled. The roots may remain healthy. If the diseased crown is sliced open, the affected area appears water soaked and uniformly brown; the discoloration is not confined to the vascular tissue.
Root and crown rots tend to become problems when planting beds remain wet for prolonged periods. This
is most likely to occur in heavy soils or if planting beds are watered excessively or too frequently.
Root and crown rot can be minimized or avoided by preparing raised
beds with well-drained soil, providing
good drainage away from planting beds during rainy weather, avoiding overwatering, and replacing plantings
every few years. Where the disease has developed, soil treatments including solarization can be used to
reduce Phytophthora levels before replanting strawberries.
For more information, see the Phytophthora
Root and Crown Rot Pest Note.
Brown discoloration of crown tissue
and wilted strawberry plant
(left) and infected (right) plants