- Tomato

Tomato Tomato

Anthracnose

Fungus

Colletotrichum spp.


In a Nutshell

  • Water-soaked lesions on leaves, stems, pods or fruits.
  • Oval lesions surrounded by vividly colored margin.
  • The lower stem dark-brown and rough.
  • Defoliation, lodging of plants or top die back of branches in severe cases.

Symptoms

Type of crop, variety and environmental conditions will influence the severity of symptoms. Gray to tan-colored lesions appear on leaves, stems, pods or fruits. These spots can be circular, oval or irregular in shape and with dark brown, reddish or purplish margins. Under favorable weather conditions, they become more numerous, enlarge and coalesce, turning dark brown or black in the process. Their center gradually becomes grayish and, in the later phases of the infection, it may show tiny dispersed black flecks. A reddish discoloration of the midrib of leaves is also common in some crops. In severe cases, the leaves wilt, dry and fall off, causing premature defoliation of the plant. On stems, lesions are elongated, sunken and brownish, also with darker margins. As they enlarge, the lesions may encircle the base of the stem, causing the plant to wilt and lodge. Top dieback of stems or branches is also common.

Boost your yield with the mobile crop doctor!

Get it now for free!

Hosts

Trigger

The symptoms are caused by several species of fungi of the genus Colletotrichum spp. They survive in the soil, associated to seeds, or on plant debris and alternative hosts for up to four years. There are two ways by which the infection is carried over to new plants. Primary infections happen when soil- or seed-borne spores infect seedling during emergence, growing systemically in the tissues. On other cases, the spores are splashed onto the lower leaves by rain drops and start an infection that spread upward. Secondary infections start when the spores produced within the leaf or fruit lesions are dispersed by rain splashes, dew, sucking insects or field workers to upper plant parts or to other plants. Cool to warm temperatures (optimal 20 to 30 °C), soils with high pH, prolonged leaf wetness, frequent rainfalls and dense canopies favor the disease. A balanced fertilization makes crops less prone to anthracnose.

Organic Control

The spreading of the disease can be prevented by plunging seeds in a warm water bath before sowing (temperature and time depend on the crop). Neem oil can be sprayed. Biological agents might also help to control the infection. Products based on the fungus Trichoderma harzianum and the bacteria Pseudomonas fluorescens, Bacillus subtilis or B. myloliquefaciens can also be used as part of a seed treatment. Organically approved copper formulations can be sprayed against this disease in a variety of crops once the symptoms have been detected.

Chemical Control

Always consider an integrated approach with preventive measures together with biological treatments if available. Spray early in the day, and avoid applications during hot weather. Also, treat seeds prior to planting. Seed dressing can be used to kill the fungi before sowing. Fungicides containing azoxystrobin, boscalid, chlorothalonil, maneb, mancozeb or prothioconazole can be sprayed preventively to lower the risk of infection (please check the specific formulation and recommendations for your crop). Some cases of resistance to some of these products have been described. In some crops, no effective treatments is available. Finally, post-harvest treatments together with a food-grade wax can be applied to reduce the incidence on fruits bound to be shipped overseas.

Preventive Measures

  • Cultivate plants in well drained soils.
  • Enrich the soil with compost to help plant resist diseases.
  • If possible, select sites with low rainfalls.
  • Provide the fields with good drainage.
  • Use seeds from healthy plants or from certified sources.
  • Choose a more resistant variety, if available in your area.
  • Plant resistant plants or buy healthy transplants.
  • Keep a wider space between plants at sowing.
  • Monitor fields or orchards for signs of the disease.
  • Remove volunteer plants and weeds in and around the field.
  • Stake tall plants, such as tomatoes to improve improve air circulation around the leaves and stems.
  • Plant trap crops or trees around the fields.
  • Practice good sanitation of the field or orchard by removing plant debris for example.
  • Avoid the movement of machinery or workers in the fields when the foliage is wet.
  • Clean your tools and equipment carefully.
  • To avoid spreading the disease, keep out of gardens when plants are wet and make sure to disinfect all garden tools after use.(One part bleach to 4 parts water).
  • If irrigation is necessary, plan it during the early morning and make sure the foliage is dry before nightfall.
  • Water plants with a drip sprinkler as opposed to an overhead sprinkler.
  • Do not touch the plants when they are wet.
  • Harvest early to avoid the worst symptoms.
  • Store fruits in a well-ventilated environment.
  • Leave plant debris on the ground instead as the fungus decomposes quicker there.
  • Alternatively, bury plant residues very deep in the soil to favor decomposition.
  • Plan a long-term crop rotation with non-host crops (3-4 years or more).

We welcome your feedback!

We would love to learn more about our visitors!
Would you mind answering a few quick questions?

Give feedback

Boost your yield with the mobile crop doctor!

Get it now for free!