- Author: Steven T. Koike
For much of spring and early summer 2010, coastal California continued to receive rain. Such rain significantly increased bacterial leaf spot disease problems on cilantro. Presently, bacterial leaf spot is the only foliar disease affecting cilantro in California. Bacterial leaf spot is greatly increased by splashing water from rains and overhead sprinkler irrigation. The disease initially causes water-soaked, vein-delimited spots on leaves. These spots rapidly turn dark brown in color, remain angular in shape, and can be seen from both top and bottom sides of leaves. If disease is severe, the foliage can take on a blighted appearance when leaf spots coalesce. Cilantro crops with significant amounts of this disease will be unmarketable.
The pathogen is Pseudomonas syringae pv. coriandricola. This pathovar is host specific to cilantro and does not infect celery, parsley, or other apiaceae plants. The most critical disease cycle factor is that this pathogen is seedborne in cilantro. Therefore, infested seed is the primary means by which the pathogen gets into the cilantro production system.
Because most cilantro plantings are irrigated with overhead sprinklers, disease control is very difficult. If possible, use seed that has been tested and found to be pathogen-free or that has been treated. Minimize the use of sprinklers or schedule irrigations to enhance drying of the foliage. For both conventional and organic cilantro, the only foliar treatment available is a copper fungicide. Such copper sprays provide some protection but are generally not effective enough to achieve sufficient control.
We encourage growers and pest control advisors to continue to submit cilantro samples to our UC Cooperative Extension diagnostic lab in Salinas for confirmation of this problem. While bacterial leaf spot is the only documented foliar disease of cilantro in California, other parts of the world have reported a fungus leaf spot disease on cilantro; therefore, laboratory testing of California cilantro is advisable.
Bacterial leaf spot of cilantro is recognized by its dark brown, angular leaf spots that are visible from both top and bottom sides of the leaf.