A serious problem for commercial growers for many years has been unexplained dieback of either single or multiple branches or death of gooseberry bushes, with symptoms often occurring around the first full cropping year. This occurs throughout the UK on all current commercial gooseberry cultivars apparently regardless of plant type or husbandry. Some growers have thus held back from expanding their crop area, despite good demand for the fruit from all markets. Growers have struggled to control losses, often not knowing what pathogen is involved, with both soil (e.g. Phytophthora or Verticillium) and air-borne infection (e.g. Eutypa or Phomopsis) being potential causes.
At least five gooseberry plantations containing one or more of the current major commercial cultivars would be visited in order to determine the incidence and severity of dieback or death and to sample for diagnosis. A husbandry survey will be carried out in each plantation and the distribution of bushes with symptoms recorded. Symptom development in two of these plantations will then be monitored over a further growing season.
Information on techniques and products used by growers that may have reduced losses to dieback will be provided. Areas for further research including the need for Extension of Authorisations for minor use in the UK will be noted.
Industry Representative: Les Winsor, Hillside Farm
Project Cost: £12,878