Discovery Of Fungus That Attacks Dairy Feed

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — A fungus that attacks alfalfa and clover with rotting brown lesions has been detected in farm fields in New York and four other Northeastern states, say Cornell University scientists.
calendar icon 9 November 2007
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The so-called "brown root rot" was detected in eight of 10 fields sampled in New York, six of seven fields in Vermont and five of six fields in New Hampshire, Cornell researchers reported in the October 2007 issue of the journal Plant Disease.

The samplings were conducted in 2005. Since the study was done, the disease has also been found in Pennsylvania and Maine, the scientists said.

"It appears widespread. These were arbitrarily chosen fields spread out across each state," said Gary Bergstrom, a professor of plant pathology at Cornell.

"Not only was it found in a high percentage of plants in many fields, most lesions had advanced to the internal tissues of roots and crowns," Bergstrom said in a phone interview.

There are currently no effective treatments or controls for brown root rot, Bergstrom said.

Feed stock is an important crop for dairy farmers. There are approximately 700,000 acres of alfalfa and alfalfa mixes grown across New York state, according to the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program.

"The numbers are alarming," said Peter Gregg, a spokesman for the New York Farm Bureau, a 30,000-member statewide advocacy group for farmers and agriculture.

"The past couple of years it has grabbed our attention and suddenly it's become a big problem. To the extent Cornell is reporting it, we did not realize it was that bad,"

Source: AssociatedPress
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