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Midwest Fungal Diseases on Plants and Trees

March 20, 2024

Fungal diseases pose significant threats to plants and trees in the Midwest region of the United States, impacting both agricultural crops and natural ecosystems. This report provides an overview of the main fungal diseases affecting certain species, along with treatment and prevention options. Additionally, it includes a list of the top 20 fungi that should be monitored throughout the year, along with the species they tend to affect in the Midwest region.

Sooty Mold

Threats to Plant and Tree Species:

Several fungal diseases pose significant threats to plant and tree species in the Midwest:

  1. Dutch Elm Disease: Dutch Elm Disease affects various species of elm trees. and can lead to rapid decline and mortality, particularly in urban and natural elm populations.
  2. Anthracnose: Anthracnose is a group of fungal diseases that affect a wide range of trees, including maple, oak, and sycamore, causing leaf blight, dieback, and cankers.
  3. Powdery Mildew Powdery mildew affects numerous plant species, including roses, lilacs, and cucurbits (e.g., squash, cucumber), resulting in white powdery patches on leaves and stunted growth.
  4. Rust Diseases: Rust diseases affect a variety of plants, including ornamental trees (cedar-apple rust on apple trees, cereal crops (wheat), and ornamental shrubs (rose rust), causing yellow-orange pustules on leaves and stems.
  5. Sooty Mold: Sooty mold fungi colonize the honeydew excreted by sucking insects such as aphids and scale insects, leading to the development of a black, sooty growth on leaves and stems of affected plants.
Powdery Mildew

Treatment and Prevention Options:

Effective management of fungal diseases in plants and trees in the Midwest requires a combination of treatment and prevention strategies:

  1. Fungicidal Treatments: Fungicides can be applied to plants and trees to control fungal diseases, particularly in agricultural settings or high-value ornamental landscapes. It is essential to choose the appropriate fungicide based on the specific fungal pathogen and follow label instructions for application.
  2. Cultural Practices: Cultural practices such as pruning infected plant parts, improving air circulation, and avoiding overhead watering can help reduce the spread and severity of fungal diseases by creating unfavorable conditions for fungal growth and proliferation.
  3. Resistant Varieties: Planting resistant varieties of crops or trees can help minimize the impact of fungal diseases by selecting cultivars that are less susceptible to infection or have inherent resistance mechanisms.
  4. Sanitation: Prompt removal and proper disposal of infected plant debris, such as fallen leaves or pruned branches, can help prevent production of fungal pathogens and prevent the spread of disease to healthy plants.
  5. Biological Control: Introducing beneficial microorganisms or natural predators of fungal pathogens, such as predatory fungi or bacteria, can help suppress fungal populations and reduce disease incidence in plants and trees.
Rust Disease

Fungi to Monitor in the Midwest:

  1. Dutch Elm Disease- Elm trees
  2. Anthracnose- Maple, Oak, Sycamore
  3. Powdery Mildew- Roses, Lilacs, Cucurbits (e.g., squash, cucumber)
  4. Rust Diseases- Apple trees, Wheat, Roses 
  5. Sooty Mold- Various plant species affected by honeydew-producing insects (e.g., aphids, scale insects)
Dutch Elm Disease

Fungal diseases represent significant challenges to plant and tree health in the Midwest region of the United States, affecting agricultural crops, ornamental landscapes, and natural ecosystems. Effective management strategies, including fungicidal treatments, cultural practices, resistant varieties, sanitation, and biological control, are essential for mitigating the impact of fungal diseases and preserving plant and tree health. By implementing proactive measures and staying vigilant against emerging threats, stakeholders can help sustain healthy plant and tree populations in the Midwest for future generations.

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