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Preliminary assessment of differences in Christmas tree species to root rot 2011

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Project Leader: Brian Eshenaur, NYS IPM, Cornell University

Cooperators: Susanne Stokoe, Shawn Kenaley, Plant Pathology & Plant-Microbe Biology, Cornell University; George Hudler, Plant Pathology & Plant-Microbe Biology, Cornell University.

Abstract: Among the Christmas tree species grown in NY, Fraser fir has become popular and is now considered a premium tree for both consumers and Christmas tree growers.  Unfortunately tree death through a sudden decline has also become common on Fraser fir on many NY tree farms.  The areas of greatest tree death appear to be associated with low lying portions of fields.  In other states, Phytophthora species have been associated with similar tree death in Fraser firs.

This field project was conducted in a one year old Fraser fir planting in which trees were experiencing root decline.  In addition to a control planting of replacement Fraser firs, Cannan, Concolor and Turkish firs were planted in replicated blocks to determine if there is variation in susceptibility to this root decline.  Initial results indicate a higher survival rate among these alternate species as compared with replacement Fraser firs.

Samples also were removed from the field for isolation of pathogens.  Three species of Phytophthora were found associated with the roots in this study.  Characterizing the disease organisms and resistant species will be important factors in the management of this problem.