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Sycamore Anthracnose , Sycamore anthracnose is the only serious disease affecting sycamore and plane trees. The disease is common throughout the state where sycamores are grown.
The disease can appear as soon as the leaves emerge from the buds in the spring. The most characteristic symptom on young leaves is a crinkling and browning of the leaves. Entire younger leaves may be killed and then fall. These symptoms are very similar to those caused by late spring frost injury.
The most common symptom of sycamore anthracnose is slow leafing out after mild winters and/or cool, wet springs. Dead areas or blotches on leaves in late spring or summer are also common. Infected areas are often along the veins and midrib of the leaf, and dead areas may merge until the whole leaf dies. When severely infected, leaves drop off prematurely. If defoliation occurs in spring or early summer, a tree will usually produce a second flush of leaves. Visible symptoms are obvious on the leaves, however sycamore anthracnose also affects twigs, buds, and branches.
Disease Cycle :There are three distinct but often overlapping stages of sycamore anthracnose: dormant twig and branch canker/bud blight, shoot blight, and leaf blight. The fungus is active in twigs and branches during dormancy during mild episodes in the fall/winter/early spring. Active fungal growth within 1-year-old twigs kills the tips. In addition, the fungus often grows into older branches below the dead twigs forming branch cankers. Bud blight occurs during the same period and the fungus grows into individual buds and kills them before they break open.
Later during wet springs, fruiting structures mature in fallen leaves, break through the bark of dead twigs and cankered branches, and disperse spores via wind and rain splash. This initiates the shoot blight stage as spores infect emerging shoots and developing leaves, which suddenly die. The leaf blight stage appears during wet periods in late spring or early summer when spores produced on twigs and blighted shoots infect both young and mature leaves. Brown spots or blotches become visible on diseased leaves with dark-brown fruiting structures developing on the spots later in the season. Thus, sycamore anthracnose fungi survive the winter on infected leaves as well as in infected buds, twigs, and cankered branches.
Control:Although affected trees lose their leaves, they will produce a new crop that will probably be healthy since the weather is warmer and not very conducive for new anthracnose infections. Repeated defoliation by this disease can weaken trees and its effect can be seen as loss of vigor, dieback of large branches, and increased susceptibility to borers.
It is always a good idea to rake and destroy fallen leaves and twigs, since the fungus can overwinter on these plant parts. Branches with severe dieback or cankers should be pruned to remove the fungus. Maintain good tree vigor by watering during prolonged dry periods and fertilizing when necessary.
When planting sycamores or plane trees, select the most resistant species or cultivars that are available. Oriental plane is probably the most resistant followed by the London plane and the American sycamore. Because of the variability of the seedling London plane trees, we see great variability to anthracnose in the same planting of trees.
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