Fruit Berry Disease: What Is Crown/Cane Gall

Fruit berry diseases like cane gall or crown gall cause the irregular shaped spherical growths or stunted growth, find out more.

What is it?

Cane gall and crown gall are caused by one of two bacteria, either agrobacterium rubi or a.tumefaciens. These bacteria infect blackberries, boysenberries, raspberries, loganberries and youngberries.

What does it look like?

Damage from cane gall and crown gall usually appears in the form of stunted growth. The berry plants infected with bacteria tend to be weak, fall over easily and break. Typically the only berries that are produced on these plants are dry and seedy. Often galls (irregular bumps or spheres) will appear on the canes, or canes my dry out and crack off. Galls also may be present just below the level of the soil in infected plants, on the roots and crown areas of the plant. Cane galls and crown galls can vary in size and are usually white or gray and brown. Although galls cane grow up to several inches in size, they can also be as small as a pinhead.

How does it manifest?

Cane gall and crown gall occur from the bacteria being brought into the garden. Often this occurs through the roots of an infected plant which is then planted. Once planted, the bacteria quickly invades the surrounding soil and plants, entering the berry plants through wounds in the roots or crown. Gall formation begins when the bacteria goes into an active state, causing increased cell growth in the infected areas which produce the galls. Galls can appear anywhere on the berry plant, but typically show up in this order: canes, roots, and crown. Galls on berry plants can disrupt the flow of nutrients and essential water up the canes, which results in stunted growth or a weak plant that dries out above the gall and cracks off. However, galls typically do not cause the entire plant to die, just the area being starved on nutrients.

What can you do about it?

There is no way to eliminate crown or cane gall from a plant and if left untreated, infected plants can survive for many years although they will only produce dry, seedy berries if any. The only way to remove the gall is to remove the plant by digging it up and discarding it. You should also dig up the surrounding soil in at least a 6 inch circle. Once you have removed a galled berry plant, you should not replant any other berry plants there for a period of at least three years. Although crown and cane gall can creep into your garden in many ways, the best way to avoid it is to plant gall-free plants in an area never touched by gall, and when you prune plants be careful not to wound them.

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