Researchers at the IFAPA Las Torres Center, the National Institute of Agricultural Technology of Tucumán, Argentina, and the Department of Agroforestry Sciences of the University of Seville have detected carbonaceous rot for the first time in blueberry plants in the province of Huelva, specifically in plants from Moguer and Gibraleón.
Macrophomina phaseolina, the causative agent of this disease, is a pathogen that affects more than 500 cultivated and wild species, said Ifapa in a statement.
The disease is known as carbonaceous rot due to the discoloration or blackening of the stems and roots caused by the presence of the fungus in the tissues and the accumulation of microsclerotia (which are black).
Huelva is Europe's largest berry producer, and blueberry cultivation was introduced in the early 1990's as an alternative to strawberry cultivation. Between 2011 and 2018, the acreage devoted to this crop has increased from 777 to 3,000 hectares.
Symptomatic plants have been detected in Gibraleón and Moguer, and the virulence of pathogen isolates from soils where strawberries are grown has been confirmed.
This entails that producers must take special care and should have knowledge about the soil's condition when replacing strawberry crops with blueberry crops.