D. H. Wang,
J. E. Adaskaveg, and
A. Eskalen, Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology, University of California, Riverside, CA 92521
Stem-end rot of harvested avocado fruit commonly occurs wherever the crop is cultivated. Multiple fungal species have been described as causal agents. To determine the causal pathogens of stem-end rot in California, fungal isolations were conducted from symptomatic fruit, and fungi were identified by morphological and molecular techniques. In 2010 and 2011, a total of 177 isolates were recovered from 290 avocado fruit collected from seven orchards in one of the major avocado growing areas in Southern California. The majority of isolates was identified as Neofusicoccum luteum (65%), with the remainder either as Colletotrichum gloeosporioides (33%) or Phomopsis sp. (2%). In a pathogenicity test, N. luteum caused significantly (P < 0.05) more severe stem-end rot than either C. gloeosporioides or Phomopsis sp. No significant (P > 0.05) differences in stem-end rot severity were observed between inoculations with N. luteum isolated from fruit stem-end rot and N. luteum or N. parvum isolated from branch cankers. This confirms that stem-end rot of avocado can be initiated by fungi causing branch cankers. Although low humidity and rainfall during much of the growing and harvest seasons in California are considered unfavorable conditions for the development of avocado stem-end rot, the identification of the causal pathogens is of value when decays have to be managed during outbreaks, and it stresses the importance of managing branch cankers.