Some of my strawberries in the garden are covered with a gray, velvety growth. What is it and how can it be controlled?
The gray, velvety growth on your berries may be gray mold. It is also known as Botrytis fruit rot. Gray mold is favored by poor air circulation and a high humidity in the strawberry planting. The most commonly infected berries are those touching the soil or other infected berries.
Cultural practices can reduce losses due to gray mold. Do not fertilize June-bearing strawberries in spring. The application of a nitrogen-containing fertilizer in spring promotes lush, vegetative growth. Dense foliage slows the drying of the strawberry planting, resulting in a more favorable environment for gray mold. Control weeds in the strawberry bed. Weeds reduce air circulation and slow the drying of the strawberry plants. Mulch the planting with straw to keep the berries off the ground. Berries resting on a damp or wet soil are more susceptible to gray mold. During dry weather, irrigate in the morning when using a sprinkler. Plants dry quickly when irrigated in the morning. “Clean-pick” the strawberry planting. Harvest the strawberry planting frequently. Pick berries as soon as they are ripe. Handle berries carefully during harvest to avoid bruising the fruit. Immediately refrigerate the unwashed berries. Berries that exhibit symptoms of gray mold should be picked and removed from the bed. Finally, fungicides are used by commercial strawberry growers to control gray mold. However, cultural practices are the best way to control Botrytis fruit rot in home gardens.