Investigating population dynamics of the fruit rot pathogen Colletotrichum acutatum

Tim Miles, assistant professor in the MSU Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences, is investigating new disease management programs for Michigan blueberries.

Researcher: Tim Miles

Awarded: $38,300
Leveraged: $138,000

Anthracnose fruit rot is the most important and difficult-to-control disease in Michigan blueberries. The causal fungus, Colletotrichum acutatum, begins the infection process by germinating in the presence of water, followed by penetration on fruit surfaces. Typically, these infections begin at bloom and remain symptomless on immature fruit, making them difficult to detect. As fruit ripens, the skin will rupture, and fruit decay will begin. This decay can lead to preharvest fruit losses of 10% and postharvest losses of up to 100%. Disease management relies heavily on appropriately timed fungicide applications. In conjunction with research for this project, researchers have presented to growers across several regions, giving them the tools to develop more effective fungicide efficacy programs by reinforcing the need to apply broad spectrum contact fungicide. By designing improved programs, growers should save on direct costs and reduce economic losses due to labor required for manually sorting diseased fruit from healthy blueberries, as well as outright rejection by processors. This project significantly built on previous Michigan State University research and will complement a Specialty Crop Block Grant Program grant that was funded in 2020 to continue this work.

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