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Leaf blight, leaf scorch and leaf spot of strawberry

Quick facts

  • Leaf blight, leaf scorch and leaf spot are caused by three different fungi, but are managed in the same way.

    • Leaf blight infects all green parts of the plant and, in rare cases, causes a soft rot on fruit. 

    • Leaf scorch can infect leaves, petioles, runners, fruit stalks and berry caps. 

    • Leaf spot can infect leaves, petioles, runners, fruit stalks, berry caps and fruit. It was once one of the most common and destructive fungal diseases of strawberry, but not any longer.

  • To manage these diseases, plant in narrow rows, remove weeds often and renovate strawberry patches every year after harvest.

  • Choose planting sites with full sun, good soil drainage and air circulation.

Identifying fungal strawberry diseases

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How to manage leaf blight, leaf scorch and leaf spot 

Cultural control 

  • Choose sites with full sun, good soil drainage and air circulation.

  • Fungi require long periods of continuous wetness to infect plants, so any practice that promotes quick drying of leaves and fruit will reduce disease.

  • Irrigate through drip irrigation or a soaker hose. If overhead sprinkling is your only option, water early in the morning on a sunny day so leaves dry quickly.

  • Remove weeds to improve air circulation around plants.

  • Plant in rows or narrow beds, no wider than 12-18 inches to promote good air movement in and around plants. 

  • Train runners and renovate strawberry beds every year after harvest to maintain narrow beds. 

  • Following renovation, rake and remove old leaves. Diseased leaves should be buried in a compost pile.

  • Apply nitrogen fertilizers after renovation. Avoid early spring applications of nitrogen which encourage overly lush growth. Lush growth reduces airflow promoting a moist microclimate which encourages the growth of fungal diseases.

  • Fungicides are not necessary in home strawberry patches. Cultural practices usually work to control fungal diseases.

Resistant varieties 

  • Many new strawberry varieties have resistance to leaf spot

  • No strawberry varieties are resistant to leaf blight and no strawberry varieties are reliably resistant to leaf scorch in Minnesota.

Michelle Grabowski and Karl Foord, Extension educators

Reviewed in 2019

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