Fungus affecting strawberry harvest across Middle Tennessee

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A favorite at your local farmer’s market may be scarce this year. 

Lauren Palmer, a farmer at Bloomsbury Farm, noticed issues early on this strawberry season. 

“They weren’t very robust plants and then the harvest kind of came on a little slow,” she explained. “There’s like a little black spot on the berry, and once you see it it just kind of multiplies.”

The black spot has been spotted across our region. It’s a sign of anthracnose.

“A waterborne fungus that is affecting our berry crop,” said Palmer. “We had the wettest February on record, and our crop is demolished because of this.”

The fungus is brought on, in part, by relenting rain and warm temperatures. This year the fungus is affecting a number of local strawberry crops. 

Zach Hansen, a specialty crops pathologist with UT Agriculture Extension, tells News 2 he’s received reports of the disease this week in Sumner and Lawrence counties. 

Kelley’s Berry Farm near Castalian Springs is also expecting a short strawberry season, as a result of anthracnose. 

“I didn’t see a single berry at market last week,” said Palmer.  “That kind of was a red flag to me that it’s a very bad year for berries.”

Good news for Lauren and Bloomsberry – they have plenty of other veggie crops to sell. Good news for you at home, this disease is not harmful to humans. 

It is however devastating to strawberries. Lauren will have to close off her berry field and move it elsewhere on the farm, in hopes that healthy berries will return next year. 

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