June is here and temperatures are rising. Along with rising temperatures comes a shift in fruit rotting fungi from Botrytis to Rhizopus (Fig. 1). Rhizopus stolonifer causes Rhizopus rot or “leak”. The term “leak” comes from how the fruit are liquified by the fungus and “leak” out. Whenever you see a wet trail running down the side of the plastic mulch, chances are good there’s a Rhizopus rotted fruit in there somewhere (Fig. 2).
Rhizopus rot can also be a problem postharvest but this usually indicates that fruit were stored above the optimum temperature of 34F (Fig. 3). It’s critical during periods of high temperature that fruit are harvested in the cooler hours of the day and be transported to the cooler within two hours of harvest. Pallets of clamshells can heat up fast if they are left in direct sunlight for even a few minutes. Find or create shade for the period between harvest and transport to the cooler. Rhizopus can be controlled by rapid cooling and storage at 34F.
Few fungicides have any activity against this disease. Switch and Miravis Prime both contain fludioxonil and this is one of the few fungicides active against Rhizopus rot. Merivon is another fungicide we’ve seen good efficacy from (Fig. 4.). Keep this in mind as temperatures rise in the coming weeks and you see more Rhizopus rot.