Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology, University of California, Riverside 92521
University of California Cooperative Extension, Farm Advisor, Ventura County 93003
University of California Cooperative Extension, Farm Advisor, San Luis Obispo County 93401
Avocado branch canker in California is caused by a complex of fungal species in the families Botryosphaeriaceae and Diaporthaceae. As the popularity of avocado fruit increases, California growers are under pressure to increase their productivity in order to compete with imports. One way to increase production is through high-density planting, which entails intense canopy management, possibly leaving the trees vulnerable to infection through pruning wounds. A spore trap study was undertaken to determine the seasonal spore discharge of Botryosphaeriaceous and Diaporthaceous fungi. Based on colony counts, the highest population of Botryosphaeriaceous fungi (68%) occurred during or soon after precipitation events, which coincided with the winter months of December, January, and February. The spring and fall seasons had lower numbers of spores trapped (at 13 and 17%, respectively), with few spores trapped in the summer season. For members of the Diaporthaceae family, spores trapped were almost evenly split between winter and fall seasons (50 and 49%, respectively), with few to no spores trapped in the spring and summer seasons. A pathogenicity test of six fungi of Botryosphaeriaceae and one fungus of Diaporthaceae was conducted in the greenhouse. Internal plant vascular lesion lengths resulting from inoculation with any of the seven fungal species differed significantly from the noninoculated control. These studies suggest that pruning during the drier parts of the year would minimize infection by fungi in the Botryosphaeriaceae and Diaporthaceae families.