Two shoot dieback maladies (SDM) of pecan vertical bar Carya illinoinensis (Wangenh.) C. Kochi are of unknown cause and can adversely affect tree canopy health. They occur during either early spring (SpSDM) or early summer (SuSDM). Field studies found that both maladies predominantly occur on shoots retaining peduncles from the previous crop year's fruit cluster. Isolations of transition zone (from living to dead) tissue of symptomatic shoots, of 14 cultivars, found Phomopsis sp. in 89% or greater of samples an Botryosphaeria spp. in 40% or greater of sampled shoots. Isolations occasionally found some combination of eight other apparently saprobic fungal genera with individual genera typically present in 10% or less of symptomatic shoots but were always present in association with either Phomopsis sp. or Botryosphaeria spp. when shoots exhibited either SuSDM or SpSDM. The SpSDM form was associated with 10 cm or less of the shoot's length before budbreak in early March before expanding to 30 cm or greater by late June to produce the SuSDM form, thus, providing evidence for an ongoing and expanding infection common to both SDM forms. The incidence of both "Phomopsis-associated" SDM forms was greatest on trees likely exhibiting substantial stress, some of which was crop-associated. The consistent association of these two fungi with SDM indicates a role for one or both in its development; however, further pathogenicity research is needed to determine if they are the primary cause of these shoot dieback maladies and how the), interact with stress factors. Linkage of Phomopsis sp., and possibly Botryosphaeria spp., to these two SDMs raises the possibility of significant canopy damage in prolific cultivars and emphasizes the importance of management practices that minimize stress in orchard trees.
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