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March Highlights

Things to watch for during March

From our experience of samples we have received during March in previous years in the OSU Plant Clinic, this page will highlight some problems that may occur this month. The mild winter this year means we are ahead in terms of plant growth.

Abiotic disorders

The cold snap we had during last November is showing its effect now. For example we are seeing blueberries with dying and browning cambium along the length of stems, and darkened buds that do not expand. Secondary pathogens may invade the dead tissue and appear as dark necrotic lesions along stems.

blueberry cold injury

Nutrient management is an important part of growing healthy plants and regular soil testing can identify problems that may be corrected. This article shows how to interpret your soil test results, and also some of the problems that arise when nutrients are out of balance. Requirements for specific crops are available through the OSU Extension Catalog.

GENERAL NOTE: Taking action this month near bud break for many crops (such as lilac, rose, peaches, and hazelnut) with timely disease and pest management programs will reduce the need to watch for things next month and this summer.

Fungal disorders

Black leg continues to spread in crucifer crops and is wide spread in canola, vegetable seeds crops, and fresh market vegetable production.  Work crop debris into the soil or otherwise remove from infected fields, to promote decomposition of infected crop resides and a corresponding reduction in windblown ascospores next fall. 

forage rapeseed black leg
forage rapeseed

Light leaf spot, a new fungal pathogen affected the crucifer crops, is showing up in a wide range of Brassica crops, from canola and vegetable seeds crops to fresh market vegetable production.  Infections started last fall but symptoms only started appearing in the past few weeks ago; infected plants are known to remain asymptomatic through the winter. 

mustard greens light leaf spot
mustard greens

White leaf spot has shown up in turnip crops and other crucifer seed fields. Management of other leaf spot diseases in crucifers will aid in management of white leaf spot.

canola white leaf spot

Look out for purple blotch on blackberry, caused by a fungus that produces red margined, purple lesions on canes. These lesions can develop into cankers that can girdle and kill the canes during spring. Now is good time to scout for these before leaves come out and hide the lesions.

blackberry purple blotch

Anthracnose and perennial canker on apple can be watched for now, especially while pruning. Anthracnose appears on smaller branches, or trunks of young trees,  as small brown spots that develop into cankers. Perennial canker, caused by a different species of the same fungus that causes anthracnose, appears as overlapping concentric rings of woody tissue encircling a central wound. Perennial canker is often associated with the presence of woolly apple aphids, low temperature injury, and pruning wounds. Both diseases produce the bull's eye rot symptoms on fruit.

apple_anthracnoseapple anthracnose

apple perennial canker
apple perennial canker with woolly aphids (in the cracked bark)

In greenhouses now, look out for gray mold and powdery mildews on ornamentals.

Viral disorders

Since temperatures have been so warm recently, aphid populations will be developing higher numbers sooner this season.  Grass seed fields scheduled for aphicide applications to control barley yellow dwarf virus should look at earlier timing this season.  Past years aphid trapping showed peak populations were reached during  May or June, but peak spring populations may occur during March or April of this year.  Symptoms of Fall infection of Barley Yellow Dwarf Virus (BYDV) on fescue, rye, wheat and many other cultivated and wild grasses may first appear in the spring as yellowish leaf tips (reddish in oats).

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wheat - bydvwheat

In greenhouses watch for Impatiens Necrotic Spot Virus, we have had recent samples of Diascia and Lobelia with this virus. Transmitted by thrips, this virus causes discolored, distorted leaves with necrotic spots, as well as stunting.

lobelia INSV

Bacterial disorders

Damage caused by species of Pseudomonas including Pseudomonas syringae, on woody ornamentals are typically seen at this time of year. Note that Jay Pscheidt says this year he has not seen much Pseudomonas. These bacteria overwinter in diseased twigs or as epiphytes on healthy wood. Tissues that have suffered injury from frost, as well as from pruning, unsuitable soil pH, poor nutrition, or infection by other pathogens, are predisposed to Pseudomonas diseases and exhibit a variety of symptoms.

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lilac-Pseudomonas syringae





 see also "The Plant Clinic Year"