NC State Extension Publications

Pathogen

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Anthracnose is caused by a group of fungi within the genus Colletotrichum. The two main species associated with peppers are C. gloesporiodes and C. acutatum, but there are several species that may cause this disease. C. gloesporiodes is more likely to infect mature fruit, whereas C. acutatum is more likely to infect immature fruit. Many species of Colletotrichum infect more than one host and more than one species may infect a single host.

Symptomatic pepper

Figure 1. Anthracnose lesions on Caspsicum spp.

Rui map Zheng, Bugwood.org

Anthracnose lesion on Capsicum annuum

Figure 2. Anthracnose lesion on Capsicum annuum.

Gerald Holmes, Strawberry Center, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Bugwood.org

Host Crops and Plants

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Anthracnose is known to infect a wide range of commercial pepper plants and related solanaceous crops. Extensive outbreaks have occurred on bell peppers and specialty hot peppers.

Host Parts Affected

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All above-ground parts of the plant are susceptible to infection, but the fruits are most impacted by this disease. Ripe and over-ripe fruit tend to be more susceptible, but pepper plants can become infected at any growth stage, as well as at post-harvest.

Identification

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Fruit lesions are the most common symptom. Initially, the lesions are small, depressed, and circular. As the disease progresses, they become much larger and develop mats of salmon to pink-colored spores, causing their surface to appear wet and gelatinous. The centers of the lesions can range from tan, orange, brown, or black. The colored spore mats seen on the fruit features are characteristic of this disease. Concentric circles commonly surround the lesions. Eventually, the entire fruit will rot. Anthracnose can cause a latent infection where contaminated, immature fruits may not show symptoms of disease until fully mature.

Anthracnose lesion on Capsicum spp.

Figure 3. Anthracnose lesion on Capsicum spp.

Rui map Zheng, bugwood.org

Colletotrichum spp. fungal fruiting bodies

Figure 4. Colletotrichum spp. fungal fruiting bodies within a lesion on Capsicum spp.

Cesar Calderon, Cesar Calderon Pathology Collection, USDA APHIS PPQ, bugwood.org

Favorable Environmental Conditions for the Disease

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The pathogen prefers temperatures of around 80⁰F (27⁰C) and high levels of precipitation. The pathogen survives inside or on the surface of seeds. It can also over-winter in soil in the form of microsclerotia, which are very small, compact masses of hardened mycelium containing nutrient reserves for extreme conditions. Rain splash carries fungal spores from infected soil, plant debris, and/or fruits onto nearby plants. Excess rain can lead to higher rates of infection and crop loss.

General Disease Management

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Management of this disease requires an integrated approach that includes preventative practices and control measures. Implementing the following techniques can help prevent losses due to anthracnose:

  • Use pathogen-free seeds. Select seed sources that are certified or known to be pathogen free to prevent disease introduction.
  • Rotate crops. Crops should be rotated to non-solanaceous plants for 2-3 years.
  • Do not use overhead irrigation. Irrigation systems that limit water splash should be incorporated. Additionally, limiting field operations when plants are wet will help reduce spread.
  • Control weeds and solanaceous volunteers. Regular weeding should be performed near transplants along with the removal of solanaceous volunteers.
  • Destruction of crop residue. After harvesting fruit, fields should be immediately mowed. All plant debris should be worked back into soil to encourage complete break-down of infected material.
  • Scout fields. Frequently monitor fields for signs of disease and remove infected fruit immediately.
  • Use black plastic or other material. Creating a barrier between the pathogen in the soil and the plants will minimize disease.
  • Adequate drainage in the fields. Good drainage is necessary to reduce extra moisture and water-logging of crops.
  • Use of fungicides. Fungicides are most effective when applied preventatively (before disease occurs).

Disease Control for Conventional Growers

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There are several fungicides labeled for use on peppers to prevent anthracnose (Table 1). Fungicide applications are recommended starting at the first fruit set and should continue as the fruit ripens.


Table 1. List of fungicides labeled for management of anthracnose on pepper plants.

Active Ingredient

Example Product1

FRAC2

Efficacy3

Azoxystrobin

Various

11

E

Azoxystrobin + difenoconazole

Quadris Top

11 + 3

E

Chlorothalonil

Various

M05

F

Chlorothalonil + cymoxanil

Ariston

M05 + 27

F

Difenoconazole + benzovindiflupyr

Aprovia Top

11 + 3

E

Famoxadone + cymoxanil

Tanos

11 + 27

F

Fluopyram + trifloxystrobin

Luna Sensation

7 + 11

G

Mancozeb

Various

M03

F-G

Mancozeb + copper

ManKocide

M03 + M01

F-G

Penthiopyrad

Fontelis

7

G

Pyraclostrobin

Cabrio

11

E

Pyraclostrobin + fluxapyroxad

Priaxor

11 + 7

E

Trifloxystrobin

Flint

11

E

1 Other products on the market will have the same active ingredient(s). Always read fungicide labels before application.
2 FRAC code (Fungicide Resistance Action Committee code). Avoid using products with the same FRAC code in consecutive or mixed applications to minimize the development of resistant populations. For more information, visit frac.info.
3 Efficacy ratings: E = excellent; G = good; F = fair; P = poor


Disease Control for Organic Growers

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The most effective way for organic growers to avoid anthracnose is to be diligent with preventative measures. Crop rotations, frequent disease monitoring, and removal of all potential sources of inoculum are extremely important. Currently, there are no strains of peppers resistant to the pathogen and chemical options are limited. OMRI-approved copper fungicide applications may help subdue disease spread.

Disease Control for Home Gardeners

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Copper fungicide treatments are the main option for home gardeners in preventing disease. Garden beds should be scouted frequently and infected fruits should be disposed of immediately. However, there is little action that can be taken after the appearance of disease.

Useful Resources

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Acknowledgements

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This disease factsheet was prepared by Cecelia Stokes and Ella Reeves in the Meadows Plant Pathology Lab.

Authors

Research Technician
Entomology & Plant Pathology
Extension Associate, Vegetable and Herbaceous Ornamental Pathology
Entomology & Plant Pathology

Publication date: March 22, 2021

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Recommendations for the use of agricultural chemicals are included in this publication as a convenience to the reader. The use of brand names and any mention or listing of commercial products or services in this publication does not imply endorsement by NC State University or N.C. A&T State University nor discrimination against similar products or services not mentioned. Individuals who use agricultural chemicals are responsible for ensuring that the intended use complies with current regulations and conforms to the product label. Be sure to obtain current information about usage regulations and examine a current product label before applying any chemical. For assistance, contact your local N.C. Cooperative Extension county center.

N.C. Cooperative Extension prohibits discrimination and harassment regardless of age, color, disability, family and marital status, gender identity, national origin, political beliefs, race, religion, sex (including pregnancy), sexual orientation and veteran status.