What is Botrytis Cinerea?
Botrytis cinerea is the name of a fungus that attacks plants, including fruit and vegetable crops, and can include gray rot, blossom-end rot, bunch rot and noble rot. In most cases, botrytis is a destructive fungus feared by horticulturists and those who make their living from agricultural products, as an attack can wipe out an entire crop.
Life Begins as a Single Spore
Botrytis cinerea begins its life as a spore, a small single-celled particle, and only becomes active in warmer temperatures. So during the cool autumn and cold winter months botrytis spores lie dormant in the fields or on immature crops. Botrytis spores form best in damp or humid weather at about 60 degrees Fahrenheit---usually as spring arrives and the weather warms. The reproducing spores form mycelia, extended web-like threads of fungus that spread out over the ripening fruit and vegetables. Botrytis prefers densely packed fruit such as grapes because the close spaces between the fruit hold warmth and water.
The Damage Spreads
The spores in the mycelia spread over the crops and poke holes in them to eat the sugar and acid. As they spread and feed, the crops become gray and pulpy. This is known as gray rot, blossom-end rot and bunch rot. As the mycelia spreads, animals, humans and nature's elements carry the spores away to other healthy crops, where the spores feed on the new fruit and again reproduce into mycelia and re-create the process.
The Process Continues
Once the spores create holes in the crops the sun evaporates the water in them, causing them to become dehydrated and shriveled. As the warm, damp weather continues, the spores move from crop to crop to feed. When the weather cools again the spores go dormant.
But It's Not All Bad
In most cases, botrytis is devastating for the crop's producers. But makers of some sweet table wines and dessert wines welcome this process because it concentrates the sugar left in the grapes, resulting in a sweeter, more full-bodied wine. For this reason, some winemakers call botrytis the noble rot and welcome its arrival during their growing season.
Many people who grow mushrooms order varieties not native to the areas where they live. Mushroom spore shipments arrive suspended in liquid inside spore syringes. The spore syringe looks exactly like a needle-less syringe used in medicine. Since it takes very little of the spore solution to start a batch of mushrooms, the question arises of how to store the remaining mixture in the syringe so that it remains viable.
Place the plastic protective cap back onto the end of the spore syringe to prevent air from getting inside and to prevent the spore solution from spilling out.
Insert the spore syringe into a plastic, resealable sandwich bag and press down on the bag to eliminate all of the internal air. Roll the bag around the syringe in a circular manner until you reach the end of the plastic bag. Press the top of the bag together to seal it.
Insert the plastic bag and syringe into a refrigerator, preferably in a drawer where they will not be exposed to light. The spore syringes can remain viable in the refrigerator for between four and 12 months after purchase.
Destructive Grubs and Beetles
Japanese beetles are attracted to more than 300 types of plants and can severely damage them by eating the leaves and flowers. They lay their eggs in the ground and the larvae, or grubs, feed on plant roots and organic matter in the soil. The bright metallic green beetles have copper-colored wing covers, and two rows of tufts of white hair on their abdomens. The grubs are white and curl into a c-shape when disturbed. Make sure you have Japanese beetles before you treat.
Control With Milky Spore
Apply milky spore powder to lawns at a rate of 10 ounces per 2,500 square feet, or as directed on the label, in spring or fall when the grubs are active. Water the area after applying the powder. Once a grub eats the milky spore bacteria, it will contract the disease and die. The disease develops best when the soil temperature is between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit, and may take more than three years to provide effective control in cooler climates.
Milky Spore is an application applied to lawns to kill the white grubs that can damage and eventually kill a lawn. Milky Spore is not harmful to vegetable crops and is safe to apply around the garden.