Downy mildew

For most varieties, foliar infections are the main phase to be concerned about. However, the downy mildew pathogen can also infect clusters. Cultivar Chancellor is the poster child for downy mildew cluster infection. Both the rachis and berries can be destroyed. If active infections are found, use fungicides with post-infection activity at the highest labeled rate. For downy mildew, Ridomil Gold (MZ or Copper) are the strongest fungicides, followed by phosphorous acid fungicides like Phostrol and ProPhyt. When using phosphorous acids, applying a “booster spray” five days after the first spray will enhance the curative effect. Strobilurin fungicides have limited post-infection activity and should preferentially be used in a preventive mode.

Newer fungicides for downy mildew control are Presidio, Revus and Revus Top (don’t apply Revus Top to Concord or Noiret vines due to risk of phytotoxicity), Gavel (contains mancozeb), Forum, Reason, Ranman and Tanos. While some of these new fungicides have post-infection (curative) activity, they are best applied on a preventative basis. They are good for integration into a fungicide resistance management program as many of them represent new and different chemistries.

Black rot

Black rot lesions have been seen on grape leaves in various locations and range from 1 to 5 mm in size. They can be recognized by the tiny, black pimples (pycnidia) in a ring along the inner edge of the lesion. Temperatures in the high 70s and low 80s are perfect for black rot. At these temperatures, only six to seven hours of wetness are needed for infection, so a nightly dew period may be sufficient for infection.

Black rot is a tricky disease because infections can remain latent (invisible) for a long period of time, so you won’t know the berries are infected until is it too late to do anything about it. However, one can scout for the small, roundish leaf spots – a lot of black rot leaf lesions indicate high disease pressure from ascospore inoculum and will also contribute conidia for fruit infections. Conidia produced in leaf spots are rainsplashed, whereas the old fruit mummies produce airborne ascospores. In a field with a history of black rot, old fruit cluster remnants left hanging in the trellis are major contributors to infection. Fruit infections can take place anytime from bloom onwards, but only become apparent between bunch closure and veraison. Black rot is relatively easy to control in the period from immediate pre-bloom through early fruit development.

The approach to black rot control now focuses primarily on protecting the clusters from infection. EBDC sprays applied earlier in the season for Phomopsis will also control black rot leaf infections, and therefore no sprays are recommended specifically for black rot on the foliage early in the season. In five years of trials in New York, good black rot control was achieved with one immediate pre-bloom and one to two post-bloom fungicide sprays. A second post-bloom application is strongly advised if black rot has been a problem in the vineyard the previous year, and should be considered prudent if wet weather is anticipated. During three years of fungicide trials in a ‘Concord’ vineyard in Fennville, Mich., just two post-bloom applications of SI fungicides (Rally, Elite) provided very good control under high black rot pressure.

Sterol inhibitor fungicides (e.g., Rally, Elite) continue to provide outstanding control of black rot and provide several days of post-infection activity. Currently, there are various “generic” tebuconazole products on the market, like Orius and Tebuzol, that may be more cost-effective. The difenoconazole ingredient in Revus Top and Inspire Super is similar to Rally and Elite when it comes to black rot control. When using SI fungicides on a post-infection schedule, use the highest label rates because post-infection activity is strongly rate dependent, particularly when extended “kickback” activity is required. The strobilurin fungicides (Abound, Flint, Sovran, Pristine) and Luna Experience are also excellent against black rot, but provide only limited post-infection activity. Flint, Pristine, Inspire Super and Revus Top should not be used on Concord grapes because of potential phytotoxicity.