Plants, however well cared for, are vulnerable to fungal infection. Forever. And the worst thing is that these microorganisms reproduce very quickly, so much so that the least expected day you begin to see that the leaves fall or that the stems rot … Symptoms shared by many diseases, such as botrytis.
This is, without a doubt, one of the ones that cause the most damage to our beloved crops. But do not spread panic: With a few simple tricks we can prevent it from causing us problems.
What is it?
The botrytis, Botrytis cinereaor botrytis, is a fungus that belongs to the family Sclerotiniaceae, genus Botryotinia. The species is Botryotinia fuckelianawhich was described in 1945. It is a microorganism that affects both plants, animals and even bacteria; However, it prefers to use the vine as a host, hence those who cultivate this fruit climber have to pay special attention to the conditions of the land, irrigation, and of course the subscriber.
It is popularly known as gray mold, since the symptoms we see first are just that: a grayish powder. But… when are you most active? Well, like the rest of mushrooms, the risk of infection is higher when the environment is warm and humid.
How does it infect plants?
It can penetrate the body of crops in many different ways:
- Due to weakness / poor plant health: it occurs when the conditions (land, irrigation, fertilizer, and / or climate) are not adequate. For example: if we water from above, what we will do is plug the pores of the leaves, stems and fruits, so we would literally suffocate them since we will prevent them from breathing.
- For pruning wounds: Although there are many plants that tolerate pruning, none are spared the entry of microorganisms -some of them pathogens, such as botrytis- due to the wounds we cause them. Hence, it is extremely important to cover them with healing pastes, especially if they are woody plants and palm trees.
- By using contaminated pruning tools: this happens when we use tools without having disinfected them before. Mushrooms are not visible to the naked eye, but just because they are not visible does not mean they are not there. It is necessary that we always keep this in mind to avoid problems, and disinfect them before and after having used them, for example with a few drops of dishwasher.
What crops does it affect?
Can affect to allwithout exception. Now, it is much more frequent in:
- Vine: the botrytis of the vine attacks the aerial part (leaves, stems, fruits), and if it is not treated in time it will greatly harm the farmer, leaving him without grapes.
- Tomato: tomato botrytis or tomato rot also leaves useless leaves and fruits. You have more information about it here!.
- Roses: Botrytis in roses especially attacks flower buds and roses.
But, I insist, any type of plant can end up sick due to the infection of this fungus.
What are the symptoms and / or damage it causes?
Botrytis is a disease that is well distinguished from the others, but at first we can be intrigued by doubts . So, so that this does not happen to you, or so that it stops happening to you, you should know that the symptoms and / or damage caused by the following:
- Appearance of a greyish powder on leaves, stems and fruits
- Flower abortion
- The stems can end up soft, rotten
- Growth slowdown
- Browning and subsequent leaf fall
- Fruit drop after turning dark brown / black
How is it treated?
Fungi, and Botrytis cinerea It is no different, they are quite difficult microorganisms to eliminate, because when we see that something happens to the plants, they have already had enough time to reach all their parts, infecting and weakening them a lot. However, If we monitor the crops daily we will be able to detect the first symptoms, and that will be when we treat them with fungicidesbeing especially recommendable the Benzimidazoles (Benomilo, Carbendazima, among others).
Of course, it is very, very important to follow the instructions that are specified on the container to the letter, and use protective measures (rubber gloves) so that we do not run out of plant or health. The inappropriate use of chemicals is a risk that should not be taken.
Can Botrytis be prevented?
Not 100%, but we can take some measures that will help us so that our plants have a better immune system and, therefore, can better defend themselves against microorganisms (not only fungi, but also viruses and bacteria) . They are as follows:
Water when needed
This usually means that you have to water when the soil is dry, or almost dry , because unless they are aquatic or semi-aquatic they do not like to have “wet feet” all the time. When in doubt, we will check the moisture of the soil before giving them water, either by using a digital moisture meter or by inserting a thin wooden stick all the way to the bottom.
Don’t buy diseased plants
Plants showing any symptoms of disease should remain in the nursery. Let’s think that if they come into contact with those at home they could endanger them also.
Fertilize during the warm season
Plants need water and “food” to be healthy. So during the warm seasonwhich is when they grow unless the temperatures are extreme, We will pay them with specific fertilizersor with ecological. If you want to know more about fertilizers, you can do click here.
Do not use »old» substrates
And less if diseased plants grew in them, since fungal spores may remain that they will not hesitate for a moment to infect those we put up again.
With this we are done. I hope you now know how to identify if your plants have botrytis and how you can fix it .