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Anthracnose disease ratings on tea (Camellia sinensis) during the growing season in Florida.

James Orrock: University of Florida

<div>Tea [<em>Camellia sinensis</em> (L.) O. Kuntze] is being researched as a new specialty crop in the US. In China, anthracnose disease has been reported to cause a 30-50% yield loss, with 20-40% incidence. We have made a first report of tea anthracnose in the US, but the impact of this disease on US varieties is unknown. We quantified naturally occurring anthracnose incidence and severity on seven accessions of tea grown in a randomized complete block design in North Central Florida. Severity ratings were scored monthly during the 2017 growing season as a percentage of diseased leaves per plant. Severity ratings for each variety were used to calculate area under the disease progress curve (AUDPC). Accessions differed in incidence and severity of anthracnose. ‘Assamica,’ ‘China Seed’ and ‘Georgian’ had the highest AUDPC for disease severity. Other varieties had significantly lower severities according to Tukey’s HSD (α < 0.05). The maximum incidence observed was 97.8% in ‘China Seed.’ The maximum severity observed was 29.3% in ‘Assamica.’ Disease incidence and severity decreased during the initial rapid flushing stages of plant growth, and increased as leaves aged and were exposed to environmental stresses. This work has documented anthracnose disease impacts on US tea varieties and may help shape future directions of tea research, breeding, and recommendations for growers in establishing a novel industry.</div>