Monterey pine forest made a remarkable recovery from pitch canker

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College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science


Monterey pine (Pinus radiata) is a species of limited distribution, with three native populations in California. In 1986, a disease known as pitch canker, caused by the fungus Fusarium circinatum, was identified as the cause of extensive mortality in planted Monterey pines in Santa Cruz County. Monitoring studies on the Monterey Peninsula documented rapid progression of the disease in the native forest during the 1990s, with most trees sustaining some level of infection. However, between 1999 and 2013, the severity of pitch canker stabilized, with many previously diseased trees then free of symptoms, and plots monitored between 2011 and 2015 documented a steady decline in the occurrence of new infections. Consequently, whereas pitch canker was once a conspicuous visual blight in the forest, by the end of the observation period, symptomatic trees had become a rarity. The arrested development of pitch canker is suggestive of a reduction in the frequency and duration of fog near the coast, which provides conditions necessary for the pathogen to establish infections.

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© 2020 University of California, Oakland. All rights reserved. Publisher’s version of record: https://doi.org/10.3733/CA.2020A0019

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California Agriculture