Agriculture

How to prevent stone fruit monilia

How to prevent stone fruit monilia

Monilia (or moniliasis) is a very problematic fungal disease that puts our crops at risk. It particularly attacks stone fruit trees such as almond, cherry, peach, apricot and plum.

Stone fruit monilia is a disease caused by various pathogenic fungi, which, in a favourable environment, can cause serious damage to plants.

FIG1. Moniliosis in the flowering phase

The different species of fungi that cause this cryptogamic disease areof the genus Monilia and Monilinia.

Monilinia laxa is the typical species of crops such as peach, cherry, apricot and plum. Being active already at low temperatures (5-10 °C), it is capable of causing extensive infections at different times of the season. It affects both vegetative organs (flowers, shoots) and ripening fruit.
The other species widespread in our country are Monilia fructigena and M. Fructicola. These are activated at higher temperatures, and therefore affect the fruit more during the ripening phase.

The biological cycle of monilia

The fungus persists as mycelium on the affected fruit that has fallen to the ground, but also on the fruit that appears mummified and hangs on the plant. The most serious attacks occur during flowering and on the fruit close to harvest. The greatest risks occur in dampness, fog and long rains. 

When these events occur, the fungal mycelia release their spores, which are dispersed by water, wind and insects. This leads to primary infections.The pathogen's penetration into the tree occurs through natural openings or micro-injuries.

 

Fig.2 Stone fruit flowering (delicate phase)

Monilinia laxa is capable of affecting the vegetative organs (flowers and small fruits). The other species, on the other hand, find optimal conditions to start damaging the fruit with temperatures between 15 and 30 °C and humidity close to saturation level.
Under the ideal conditions described, the fungus cycle is complete in about a week, generating new spores that initiate secondary infection cycles.
If, on the other hand, there are no favourable environmental conditions, monilia infections may remain latent on the fruit, only to manifest themselves through obvious post-harvest rot.

 

Fig3. Monilia in the post-harvest stage

Prevention with agronomic techniques

To prevent the occurrence of monilia, correct agronomic practices must be used.

Firstly, during winter pruning, the mummified fruits remaining on the plant must be removed and removed. Branches affected by cankers must also be removed. The material removed, when possible, must be burnt.

With pruning operations, it is also necessary to encourage the foliage to breathe. Another agronomic choice in this sense is that of a wide planting layout, which favours the passage of air between one plant and the next.

It is then necessary to manage the grassing of the planting as well as possible. For example, it is necessary to maintain the height of the grass at an acceptable level, as incorrect management of this aspect favours the damp conditions favoured by the fungus.

Treatments for monilia with products permitted in organic farming

Interventions must be carried out pre-flowering at pink button and then post-flowering.

The control of monilia (Monilia laxa, M. fructigena and M. fructicola) is especially important for almond and apricot trees, species that are particularly susceptible to this fungus. Intervention at petal fall is strategic because monilia fungi agents can easily colonise flower residues that do not completely detach at scamification and end up constituting the main source of inoculum for the ripe fruit.

Microbiological antagonists suitable for treating this fungal pathogen include Bacillus subtilis and B. amyloliquefaciens. 

The The genus Bacillus belongs to the PGPR (Plant Growth Promoting Rhizobacteria) group and comprises species of bacteria isolated from the rhizosphere with numerous beneficial activities; they help plants overcome stresses in the aerial and root system caused by various fungi and bacteria, and promote plant growth through the production of natural phytohormones.

Treatment with Botrimax

BOTRIMAX , due to its high concentration of Bacillus spp. is the ideal tool for both preventive and curative management of monilia.

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