Strawberry leaf scorch symptoms are caused by the fungus Phytophthora infestans. It attacks all types of plants, but it especially affects strawberries due to their high sugar content. The disease spreads rapidly when warm temperatures occur during spring or summer months. It causes leaves to turn brown and fall off completely leaving only bare stems. Leaves may even die back entirely from the top down, resulting in a collapsed plant with no growth whatsoever.
Symptoms of Strawberry Leaf Scorch:
The first symptom is usually a drop in the quality of the fruit. Fruit becomes smaller and less juicy than usual. It also develops small black spots on the surface of the skin. These spots will eventually develop into blisters which become infected with spores and cause further damage to your crop.
Eventually, you’ll have a dead plant!
Second symptom is a change in taste and appearance of berries and other fruits. The berries tend to lose some of their sweetness and become bitter. Some varieties are affected much worse than others. You might notice that your favorite berry tastes like dirt, while another one tastes fine.
Third symptom is a decline in overall quality of the fruit. A few berries remain firm and bright red, but most fall off before they reach your mouth. They’re not just falling off; they’re actually breaking apart in your hand!
Furthermore, the surface of the fruit becomes covered in small black spots. These spots quickly grow and turn into large black blisters. These blisters contain a thick liquid which contains many spores. The liquid also exudes a foul odor, making it even more unattractive to pick and eat.
The infection spreads internally, killing the entire plant from the inside out after several months of infection. Eventually, the plant can no longer sustain itself and will fall over, rotting in the soil.
If you’re growing strawberries in your backyard and notice any of these symptoms, you may have a case of severe leaf scorch. The infection can spread rapidly between plants, so you should inspect all of your other strawberry plants for similar signs. If you catch it early enough, you may be able to save the entire crop with a fungicide treatment. If this is your first time growing strawberries and you notice leaf scorch, you may want to give up and start over next year.
It’s not worth the time, expense, and disappointment to see your whole crop die before your eyes!
The Leaf Scorch Fungus attacks other plants in a similar way. It spreads through airborne spores which are heavier than air. Because of this, they don’t move very far and cause infection on the same plant. When the temperature is right, these spores can travel quite a ways before settling down.
Wind and rain can easily spread them to other, uninfected plants. It is at this point that leaf scorch becomes a severe problem.
You may notice these symptoms on other types of plants such as tomatoes. The fungus does not directly attack the tomato plant, but it does infect the soil and nearby plants. Once it has infected a plant, it may take several weeks before fruit is affected. The fungus remains in the soil for quite some time, and can remain active for many years!
There are several ways to treat leaf scorch. The most common method is to apply a fungicide directly to the plant. This is only effective if you catch the disease early enough. It must be reapplied after every rainstorm and after a few weeks have passed.
Several seasons of leaf scorch can render the soil sterile and useless for all your future plantings.
There is also the possibility of using a natural fungicide. This method calls for a spray made from garlic juice, which is available at any grocery store or pharmacy. The juice is diluted with water and sprayed on the plants.
Finally, you can choose to let nature take its course. This method involves doing nothing at all. Many people believe this is the best way to get rid of leaf scorch, as it helps maintain the balance of nature in your area.
There are several pros and cons to all these methods. Which one you choose depends on your patience, your skill at gardening, and your dedication to the environment.
Back to the story…
After taking a closer look at the leaf scorch, you decide that it is beyond help. Just as you take a step forward, one of the plants gives way entirely. The sound of falling soil is quickly followed by a loud smacking sound as the rotten pot hits the floor.
The sound echoes throughout the room, and you take an uneasy step backward. You stand there for a moment, peering into the shadows, but nothing happens.
Taking a deep breath, you step up to the table and take a long look at all the plants. You don’t know anything about gardening, but even you can tell that these are all dead. You’re not sure if they were dead when you got here, or if something has happened since. Somehow, the table seems even more cluttered than before.
With a shrug, you head back to the door. Just as you’re about to pull it open, you hear a faint rattling sound coming from behind you. Spinning around, you search for the source of the noise.
That’s when you see the jars.
They’re everywhere. Stacked on shelves, crammed in nooks, and even sitting on the floor. They seem to be filled with an assortment of items: seeds, nuts, twigs, rocks, pebbles, and other things that you can’t identify.
You pick one up at random and give it a quick look. The label has nothing but a bunch of numbers and symbols on it. Shaking your head, you quickly put it back in its place. You start to push open the door, but something makes you stop.
These jars are all over the place. They’ve got to be ten deep on the shelves nearest the door, and there are even more beyond that! That’s a heck of a lot of seed…and if your mission succeeds, these jars are going to be worth a lot more than money.
You can think of a lot of people who would be willing to spend a lot for their own supply.
Of course, you’ll have to take out your competitors in the process, but that’s just a hazard of the trade. If you think you can handle it, then this might be the way to go.
You’re about to head back toward the door when you notice one jar in particular. It’s got some sort of red liquid in it and lots of little seeds. Putting it to your nose, you give it a tentative sniff. It smells sweet and pleasant.
That’s when you hear the voice again. “
Aww, did you want to try some?
Here, go ahead.”
You turn around and see a beautiful woman standing behind you. She’s not old enough to be considered “mature,” but she’s definitely past her youth. She’s tall and willowy, with long red hair and skin the color of buttermilk. She smiles at you from behind a wispy white veil.
“Who…who are you?” you stammer, taking a step backward. The woman smiles, but says nothing.
You can’t tell through the veil, but her eyes seem to be boring into your very soul.
“I could ask you the same question,” she says coyly. “I live here. In this garden.” She gives an elaborate flourish that encompasses the table, the plants, and everything else in the room.
Sources & references used in this article:
Toxicity symptoms and tolerance of strawberry to salinity in the irrigation water by MCM Barroso, CE Alvarez – Scientia horticulturae, 1997 – Elsevier
Leaf Scorch Epidemics Reduce Vegetative Growth and Fruit Yield ofKent’Strawberry by JM Mutisya, JA Sullivan, S Couling, JC Sutton… – …, 2005 – journals.ashs.org
The effect of different organic mulches on strawberries by V Laugale, A Bite, I Morocko – V International Strawberry Symposium …, 2004 – actahort.org