Agriculture: Caneberries Pest Management Guidelines

Phytophthora Root Rot

  • Phytophthora spp.
  • Symptoms and Signs

    Field symptoms of Phytophthora root rot are first noticed when new primocanes (first-year canes) wilt and the shoot tips die back. Floricanes (second-year canes) of affected plants have weak lateral shoots. Leaves turn yellow or scorch from the margins. Often severe wilt and dieback occur during the first hot spell of the season. Roots and crowns are dark brown in color and lack fibrous roots. If the outer surface is scraped from the crown or main roots of recently wilted plants a reddish brown color can be seen with a distinct line where infected and healthy tissues meet. Infected tissue will eventually turn dark brown as the tissue decays.

    Comments on the Disease

    Phytophthora is a soilborne pathogen that survives in the soil as a resting spore (oospore). When soils become saturated with water for prolonged periods, infectious motile spores (zoospores) are released into the soil and can infect raspberry roots or crowns. Phytophthora species other than P. fragariae var. rubi may be involved in root rot of raspberry. (Generally, Phytophthora does not cause economic damage to blackberries.) Not all root rots are due to Phytophthora. Raspberry roots are very sensitive to excessive moisture in the soil for long periods of time. Root death from lack of air can also occur and result in similar foliar and root decay symptoms.


    Control is best achieved by planting in noninfested soils that have good drainage. Avoid low-lying areas that collect excessive water or clay soils that are poorly drained. The use of raised beds can improve drainage as can proper irrigation management; this in turn can reduce disease incidence and severity. Carefully monitor and control irrigation. Use clean plant stock, plant in noninfested soils, and use cultivars suitable for local conditions that are less susceptible to root rots.

    Variety Tolerance

    Many blackberry cultivars appear to be highly tolerant to Phytophthora, whereas red raspberries are in the main fairly susceptible, with the varieties Latham, Killarny, Caroline, and Nordic most tolerant and the varieties Ruby, Heritage, and Polana most susceptible.

    Organically Acceptable Methods

    Proper site selection with good water management and the use of clean stock and appropriate cultivars are acceptable management tools in an organically certified crop.

    Treatment Decisions

    Preplant fumigation can reduce initial disease inoculum to allow for plant establishment in heavily infected sites, though the pathogen will recolonize the area with time. Properly timed fungicide applications may also reduce disease incidence in established plantings.

    Common name Amount per acre REI‡ PHI‡
    (Example trade name) (hours) (days)
    Not all registered pesticides are listed. The following are ranked with the pesticides having the greatest IPM value listed first—the most effective and least likely to cause resistance are at the top of the table. When choosing a pesticide, consider information relating to the pesticide's properties and application timing, honey bees, and environmental impact. Always read the label of the product being used.
      (Telone C-35) 48 gal 5 days NA
      COMMENTS: Fumigants such as 1,3-dichloropropene are a source of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) but are minimally reactive with other air contaminants that form ozone. Fumigate only as a last resort when other management strategies have not been successful or are not available.
      (Ridomil Gold SL) 0.25 pt/1000 ft row 48 45
      MODE-OF-ACTION GROUP NAME (NUMBER1): Phenylamide (4)
      COMMENTS: For use on raspberries. Apply in fall after harvest and before rains. Repeat in spring if conditions are severe.
      (Aliette WDG) 5 lb 12 60
      MODE-OF-ACTION GROUP NAME (NUMBER1): Phosphonate (33)
      COMMENTS: Apply in fall after harvest and before rains, repeat if necessary 3–4 weeks later. In spring apply when shoots are 1–3 inches, repeat 3–4 weeks later.
    Restricted entry interval (REI) is the number of hours (unless otherwise noted) from treatment until the treated area can be safely entered without protective clothing. Preharvest interval (PHI) is the number of days from treatment to harvest. In some cases the REI exceeds the PHI. The longer of two intervals is the minimum time that must elapse before harvest.
    * Permit required from county agricultural commissioner for purchase or use.
    1 Group numbers are assigned by the Fungicide Resistance Action Committee (FRAC) according to different modes of actions. Fungicides with a different group number are suitable to alternate in a resistance management program. In California, make no more than one application of fungicides with mode of action Group numbers 1, 4, 9, 11, or 17 before rotating to a fungicide with a different mode of action Group number; for fungicides with other Group numbers, make no more than two consecutive applications before rotating to a fungicide with a different mode of action Group number.
    NA Not applicable.
    Text Updated: 12/09
    Treatment Table Updated: 06/15