Stephen M. Marek, Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater 74078-3033; and
Mohammad A. Yaghmour and
Richard M. Bostock, Department of Plant Pathology, University of California, Davis 95616
The principal objective of this study was to determine the etiology of a canker disease in dormant stone fruit and apple tree seedlings maintained in refrigerated storage that has significantly impacted California fruit and nut tree nurseries. Signs and symptoms of the disease develop during storage or soon after planting, with subsequent decline and death of young trees. Isolations from both diseased and healthy almond and apple trees and Koch's postulates using stem segments of desiccation-stressed almond trees as hosts implicated Fusarium avenaceum and F. acuminatum as the primary causal agents. F. solani, Ilyonectria robusta, and Cylindrocarpon obtusiusculum were also capable of causing similar symptoms but were less frequently encountered in isolations of diseased tissue. Loss of bark turgidity in excised almond stem segments, as can occur in cold-stored seedlings, correlated with increased susceptibility to F. acuminatum, with maximum canker development occurring after relative bark turgidity dropped below a threshold of approximately 86%. Healthy almond trees, almond scion budwood, and a wheat cover crop used in fields where tree seedlings were grown and maintained until cold storage all possessed asymptomatic infections of F. acuminatum, F. avenaceum, and C. obtusiusculum as determined by activation following overnight freezing, cold storage, or desiccation.